Donald B. Christeson
Feb. 2, 1926-June 7, 2013
Born in Huron, South Dakota, Don’s family moved to Los Angeles in 1929. Despite a tumultuous Depression-era childhood, Don earned his Eagle Scout; an indicator of the noble man he would become. After graduating from Manual Arts High he served as Gunner’s Mate on the destroyer USS Wickes. The Wickes repelled so many suicide attacks that it received a Unit Commendation from President Roosevelt for heroic duty protecting the fleet at Okinawa.
After the war, and a stint at UCLA, Don worked as a framer, eventually starting his own construction business, The Christeson Company. While ringing doorbells in rural Huntington Beach looking for farmland to purchase, he met the love of his life, Bonnie Beem. They married in 1953 and moved to Santa Ana, (and in 1973, to Corona del Mar) where they raised 3 children and Don participated in the development of the Orange County we know today. He built hundreds of commercial and institutional buildings, culminating in the crown of his 60-year career, the 7-building campus of Mariners Church. Integral to building the soul of the county as well, Don served in key leadership roles during the formative years of Western Medical Center, SCR Theater, Salvation Army and more.
Don is survived by Bonnie, his wife of 60 years, their 3 children: Jon (Cindy), Kelly Simmons (David) and Kathy Hildebrand (Todd); grand-children Kelly Callaghan (Ryan), Ryan, Laura, Kyle and Erica Simmons; and four great grand-children, who gave their Papa Don years of laughter. Don was pre-deceased by granddaughter Amy; we know their reunion was one of great joy. Don’s great warmth and enthusiasm earned him countless friends, and dozens were able to share their love with him in the days just before his passing. Thanks to you all.
A Memorial Service will be held for Don on Monday, June 17 at 11 AM at Mariners Church, 5001 Newport Coast Drive, Irvine. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make donations to Free Wheelchair Mission, 15279 Alton Parkway, Suite 300, Irvine, CA 92618.