Monday, July 25, 2016

Reed and Leona Christiansen

My Father, Reed O. Christiansen, was born in Richfield, Utah on Dec 6, 1903.  His Father, James Christiansen was involved in politics and was twice elected the Mayor of Richfield.  In 1906, James was elected Utah State Treasurer.  This required James to move with his family to the capital in Salt Lake City.  While serving as Treasurer, he was caught misappropriating funds.  He paid back all the money and then resigned.  He then left for California and my father did not see his father again for over 40 years.  Thus, my dad, his mother and two siblings were left to fend for themselves.  They returned to Richfield where my father's mother struggled to support her family.  She worked many jobs for many hours and the children and had paper routes and other assorted jobs to contribute to the family.  During this time, the family became less active in the church.

My Father, Reed, attended Richfield High School and participated in student government and in athletics.  Football came to Richfield High during my father's years and Reed had the distinction of playing in the first game he ever saw. (no TV in those days)  After graduating, he attended the University of Utah for two years before taking a job in Los Angeles, California.  The summer between his two years at the “U”, he took a summer job in Price, Utah.  At a 4th of July dance, he met his future wife, Leona Bryner.  They dated the rest of the summer before departing in September to resume college.  My Mother, Leona, attended the Brigham Young Acadamy.

Leona Bryner was born June 21,1905, in Price, Utah  She was the 5th of 7 children born to John U. Bryner and Martha Eliza Smith.  They had a strong heritage in the church going back to the origens of the church.  My mother's gradfather, Silas Smith, was a 1st cousin of Joseph Smith.  She did very well in school being promoted to 5th grade after completing 3d grade.  In High School, she was involved in student government and participated in many activities.  After completing her Jr. year, she found she had enough credits to graduate so she enrolled at the Brigham Young Academy in the September.  In the summer after her 1st year of college, she returned to Price to work to earn money to continue her education.  She met her future husband, Reed Christiansen, and they dated the rest of the summer.  In September, they left to attend their different colleges and while they corresponded they did not see much of each other for a few years.  After completing his second year of college, my father took a position with Pacific Electric in Los Angeles, California.  After Leona's second college year, she taught school for two years in Price, Utah.  Then Leona and a friend decided to visit a friend working in Wilmington, California near Los Angeles.  Reed visited her frequently during her California visit and ended up proposing.  They set a date for the following summer, 6 August 1928.

They originally lived in the Adams Ward in Los Angeles.  It was at this time my father became active in the church and was ordained an Elder in March of 1933.  In 1935, after having two sons, Richard and Don, they moved to Spencer Street in Glendale right next to Hoover High School.  In 1940, my parents and their two sons, made the trip to the Mesa Temple to be sealed as a family.  In the 1940's two more sons were born, John and Gordon.  In 1948, the construction of the West Ward building began and in 1950, the building was dedicated by the Prophet, George Albert Smith.  My father, Reed, was the 2d councilor in the West Ward Bishopric at that time.  It was interesting that after he became active in the church during the 1930's, he received a promotion at his work where he did not have to work on Sundays.  His career was working for Pacific Electric which eventually became the Southern California Rapid Transit District.  When he retired in 1968, he was the Assistant to the General Manager.

My mother, Leona, served many years in the Primary on both a Ward and Stake level.  She also obtained a Pre-school teaching certificate and used the money earned from teaching pre-school to help finance missions and college for her sons.  My parents also served a Stake Mission together and were able to be an instrument in the Lord's hand in bringing 5 souls into the church.

In March of 1956, My parents and my brother John and I had the privilege of attending the dedication of the Los Angeles Temple.  We saw the dedicatory prayer given by Pres. David O. McKay and participated in the Halleluah Shout.

In 1969, my parents were called to serve as a Senior Couple in the Southwest British Mission.They returned in 1971, after having “a most rewarding spiritual experience.”  After they returned home, they were called to serve as Ordinance Workers in the Los Angeles Temple.  They served for over 10 years until my mother's health would no longer permit it.  My Dad also served as a High Priest Group leader for 11 consecutive years.

They raised 4 sons—Chris(Richard), Don, John and Gordon.  Living the precepts of the gospel was always emphasized in our home.  Their example of service helped us as their children to want to serve in like manner.  They both lived into their 90's, with my mother passing in 1996 and my father in 1999, having “fought a good fight.”

LtR Ron Beach, Brent Frost, Gordon Christiansen