Passed away peacefully at home on February 11, 2018 surrounded by her loving family. She led a very full life, and was best known for her outgoing personality, enthusiasm and spirit.
She was born in Fargo, North Dakota on July 30, 1924, on a farm homesteaded by her Danish great-grandparents. She grew up in Chicago and during World War II wrote many letters to her high school classmates who served in the armed forces. She met her husband, Thomas A. Christiansen, when they both worked for Bell Telephone. They married in 1951 and honeymooned in Europe, taking an ocean liner and then staying for several months. She supported Tom through Harvard Business School then moved to California in 1956, just as the electronics industry was taking off.
Elayne attended Stephens College for two years then she became an airline stewardess for the Trans World Airlines. Back then, flying was considered glamorous, so she saved all her outfits, even wearing one while working as a volunteer for a TWA museum exhibit for the Clipped Wings organization.
Elayne was an incredible athlete. She was captain of several high school sports teams, then later, an accomplished Masters swimmer. In addition, she taught life saving and helped coach the Los Altos High School girl’s swim team, leading them to a CCS win in 1975. In her fifties, she took up tap dancing and was featured in Bubba Gong’s shows at Foothill College. She continued to participate in dance classes well into her eighties. Elayne was an avid photographer and journalist. She primarily photographed high school athletics, friend’s weddings, and club events. She wrote many sports articles for the Town Crier, as well as press releases for the TWA Clipped Wings and the Stanford Mother’s Club.
Elayne was a fun and energetic mother to her two daughters, Elaine and Peggy. She took them on many adventurous trips, including the Waikiki rough-water swim of 2 ½ miles, competing as the only swimmer in her age group! Elayne was also widely read and politically active, taking her young daughters to candidate rallies throughout their formative years.
Open, honest, and friendly, we found we could always talk with her about anything, and will greatly miss her care and advice. Her relationship with her husband was one of equals, which gave her daughters the confidence to become engineers at a time when that was uncommon.
Our family has been so blessed to all live within several blocks of each other. After her husband’s passing in 1989, Elayne became very active in helping raise her five grandchildren while her daughters worked part-time. She created a wonderful, playful, and creative environment in her home, and all of the grandchildren regard their time at Grandma’s as some of the fondest memories of their childhood. She also possessed the gift of caring for dogs. She owned a total of six throughout her life, and their spirits would often reflect hers: energetic and loving.
Elayne is preceded in death by her husband, Thomas A. Christiansen, manager of international trade relations at Hewlett-Packard. She is survived by her two daughters, Elaine S. Christiansen-Thomas and Margaret (Peggy) J. Christiansen, her five grandchildren Tom, Jennifer, James, Michael and Joyce, and her poodle, Rascal.