October 17, 2018

Dave Christensen 1931 - 2018

Dave Christensen, who founded the Christensen mega-yacht business in 1983 in his hometown Vancouver that catered to the rich and sometimes to the famous, died Monday evening, 15th October at the age of 87.  Christensen, who’d been afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, died at an assisted living home in Vancouver surrounded by his three daughters.  Christensen built his first fortune as a home builder and then real estate developer, choosing to retire at age 50. As a retirement gift to himself, he commissioned a 95-foot-yacht to be built at Westport Shipyards in Washington.  At the conclusion of its maiden voyage to Mexico, Christensen decided he could build a better yacht, and that’s how Christensen Shipyards got its start.  Christensen was born on June 19, 1931, on a Flaxton, N.D., farm, the eldest of three children. His father, John Christensen, also owned a Red Owl grocery store in Flaxton, a community in the northeast part of the state that had 66 residents in the most recent census. Christensen’s mother, Madeline Clauson, was a school teacher who later became a homemaker.  When Christensen was 12, his father died in a tractor accident. His mother chose to move the family to Vancouver in 1943 to be near relatives. The family joined many others flocking to the city to work at the Kaiser Shipyards.  His mother didn’t take a job in the shipyards, however, working instead in a variety of roles for Wolf Electric Home Supply and later as a photographer for Meier and Frank.  While Christensen floundered at Hough Elementary School and later the old Fort Vancouver High School at Fourth Plain Boulevard and Main Street, he flourished at work.  By age 23, Dave Christensen was building houses.  In addition to believing he could build a better boat, Christensen also once said in an interview that he thought retirement might be boring, and that’s part of the reason he started the yacht business in 1983.  His yachts, with their composite shells, were known for an opulence that attracted the likes of golfer Tiger Woods and country singer Jimmy Dean, perhaps better known for his sausage. It was a rare customer who’d allow their identity to be known, reflecting the reticence to be associated with a multi-million-dollar, made-to-order purchase.  Christensen Yachts built super yachts at average length of forty meters. The company expanded in 2006, building another plant in Tennessee. In 2009, Christensen stepped away from the business, leaving its leadership to a stepson.  Currently Christensen has two super yachts in construction, one set to launch later this year,and another in 2019.  Dave Christensen is survived by his wife, Mary; daughters Kathy Maynard of Vancouver; Teri Kelly of Roswell, Ga., and Cindi Curtain of Vancouver; stepsons Riccardo Foggia Jr. of Lake Oswego, Ore., David Foggia of La Grande, Ore., and Joseph Foggia of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

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