Neighborhood grocer felled by cancer shortly after retirement
Gary John Christensen
A Mass of Christian burial was held on November 23rd at St. Agatha Catholic Church in Sellwood for Gary John Christensen, who died November 18th following surgery, at age 53.
Gary John Christensen was born February 5, 1954, in Portland. He graduated from Marshall High School, where, his wife comments, 'He liked to believe that he and his blue 1964 Falcon were the reason speed bumps were installed in the parking lot'.
Gary worked for Southern Pacific Railroad rebuilding trestles between Portland and the coast until August 6, 1973, when his love of country led him to enter the US Air Force.
His ownership of the Eastmoreland Grocery and Market dated to 1983, when he purchased it from his parents. In 1978, he married Carol Baseel, with whom he operated the neighborhood grocery store. They were married at August 6, 1978 at St. Agatha's Church in Sellwood, after which they shared a special love and lived one life together for 29 years.
In addition to the caring and personal service the couple offered at Eastmoreland Grocery, which they sold shortly before Gary's death, they worked together as graphic artists. Carol shared her love of volleyball. Their spare time was spent playing together on various co-ed teams. When an injury kept Carol from being able to play, Gary shared his love of cars. They joined the Sports Car Club of America and raced a Sunbeam Alpine, Sunbeam Tiger and finally a Mustang Cobra in Autocrosses and Ralleys around the Northwest. Gary died before fulfilling his dream of restoring an Alpine and running the Historic Race circuit. This past spring Carol surprised Gary with a Triumph motorcycle for his 'mid-life crisis.'
Gary and Carol had planned on spending next summer driving around the country building houses for Habitat for Humanity during the week, and racing cars on the weekend. But, Gary only had one week of retirement before entering the hospital for esophageal cancer surgery. Complications from the surgery left him in the ICU for 16 days before he died with his wife at his side.
Gary is survived by his wife, two sisters, 17 nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers-in-law and his six Humane Society rescued cats. Remembrances may be sent to the cattery at the Oregon Humane Society. Services at St. Agatha's Church were attended by over 500 people. He was interred at Willamette National Cemetery with full Honor Guard.
(David F. Ashton and Carol Christensen contributed to this report)
Jerry D. Smith
Jerry D. Smith, a longtime fixture on the staff of the SkyBox Pub on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, at 17th, in Sellwood, died on November 10th at the age of 49. A lifelong resident of the Portland metropolitan area, Smith was born on February 23, 1958, in Oregon City. He is survived by his wife Liz Bessich, to whom he was married in 1987, as well as by a son, two daughters, a brother, three sisters, and seven grandchildren. A private service was held at Wilhelm Funeral Home, and disposition was by Oregon Cremation Company. Remembrances are directed to the Providence Hospital system.