Christian William Withgott Halvorsen, CEO at Panafold, died March 8, at age 31. Halvorsen passed away in the care of his family after living courageously with brain cancer for several years.
Halvorsen was born in Northern California on January 5, 1990. A talented designer and engaging leader, he began his design career as a teenager pausing only to study philosophy, and graduating summa cum laude from UCLA in 2012. Once asked about leading with perseverance, Halvorsen said, “I’m not built to be a rower. I’m not 6’5”, and I can’t bench press much. Perseverance is what I contribute to a team. In high school, my job was stroke, to set and keep the pace. That meant holding the stroke rate despite the urge to speed up with excitement or relent when doubtful. Sometimes perseverance is the only thing that gets the team through.”
Halvorsen co-founded Panafold with an emphasis on design and diversity. He helped lead the company for nearly a decade, and devoted his time to developing talented staff from varied backgrounds and to building the business in technology, design and architecture.
Halvorsen’s passion and dedication to mentoring was recognized as was his support for underserved students. He helped through programs at CSUMB and Code2040, and created the Ideas Fellowship course at his former high school, Crystal Springs Upland School, where he also coached students through Senior Projects and chaperoned a trip to China. His work and interests took him all over the world, and he attended friends’ weddings and other important events from Mexico to Myanmar. Half-Norwegian by birth, Halvorsen had many colleagues in Norway and Denmark.
Although he received his diagnosis in 2013, Halvorsen continued to live life to the fullest. After spending months together during the pandemic in the family home in Big Sur, he and Sarah, the love of his life, married in a small, beautiful ceremony at Grace Cathedral. Known always as “Kit,” he touched others through his commitment to social issues and through his friendships. He stayed close to friends who could also identify a wine blind, cook up a storm, and sail through one, too. Many in the design and the food and wine small business communities mourn his loss.
A resident of San Francisco, Halvorsen is survived by his wife Sarah Jane Halvorsen (Brown) and parents Meg Withgott and Per-Kristian Halvorsen of Los Altos Hills, California, and his uncle Tom Withgott and his wife Maureen.
A memorial gathering to celebrate Kit's life is being planned for early summer. In lieu of flowers, Halvorsen’s family asks for donations in his memory to SFJAZZ Programs.