James "Jim" Christensen Profile Photo
1933 James "Jim" 2023

James "Jim" Christensen

May 10, 1933 — February 12, 2023

Alta, WY

 

James Lee Christensen passed away happily shoveling snow on the roof  of his Alta Wyoming home at the age of 89 on February 12, 2023. He  was born in Alta, Wyoming in a log cabin along the Teton Creek on May  10, 1933 to Etha Bleak and Wells Morris Christensen and was the  second oldest of 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls.  

Jim’s father Morris passed away when Jim was 5-years-old and Jim  attended the Alta School where he was taught 1st and 2nd grade by his  mother Etha. He lived with various families in Teton Valley while his  mother returned to Provo, Utah to finish her college degree. Jim  graduated from Teton High School in 1951, was drafted into the Army  in 1952, and served in Germany during the Korean War. While in the  Army, Jim drove a service truck and was on the ski patrol. He was  released from his military service 90 days early to return home to help  on the family farm. Jim was then called to serve a two-year mission for  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the North Central  States Mission.  

Upon Jim’s return from his mission, he was able to attend college on the  GI Bill. While a freshman at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah,  Jim met his sweetheart, Melissa Jennings, who was a junior. Through  the help of the Sister Missionaries and Jim, Melissa joined the LDS  church in 1958. Because of church requirements, the couple waited a  year in order to be married and sealed for time and all eternity in the  Salt Lake City Temple on October 13, 1959. Jim graduated from BYU in  1961 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology.  

Jim taught 8th grade for 1 year in Gas Hills, Wyoming, a Uranium  mining town. The nearest hospital was in Riverton, Wyoming and that  is where their first child, Jason Wells, was born in 1961. Jim went on to  get his Master’s Degree in School Administration at the University of  Wyoming. In between schooling and jobs, Jami Marie and Jubal Scott  joined the family. 

 

Jim’s desire to teach at the college level took Jim to the University of  Utah where he earned his PhD in 1968 and where Candace was born.  Jim taught in the Sociology Departments at Idaho State, Montana  State, and then moved his family to Boise, Idaho where he taught  Sociology and Social Statistics at Boise State University until his  retirement in 1991. It was in Boise that Angela Caton completed the  family. While teaching at Boise State, Jim was voted “Outstanding  Professor of the Year” and received quite a few accolades for his  teaching skills. Despite his Boise home and life, Jim returned with his  family to Teton Valley each summer to spend time in their Mountain  Home.  

In 1958, Jim and Melissa bought some land from Mark Wilson up Teton  Canyon and started building their dream home. It overlooks what used  to be the Irvin Christensen Canyon Ranch and of course, the Grand  Tetons.  

Jim had a great love for Teton Valley and used his skills to enhance the  community. With his love of serving on the ski patrol in Germany, Jim  fell in love with powder skiing. In the winter of 1962-1963, Jim was  between colleges while living in Alta and he was eyeing that fresh snow  on Baldy and Peaked Mountains. A couple times a week, he would  saddle his horse Sonny, take his skis and dog Tawny, and head up  Peaked Mountain. Jim would tie Sonny up when he could no longer  buck the deep snow and Jim hiked up the rest of the way to the top of  Peaked, which took all day. Around sunset, he would ski down, a  rooster tail of powder trailing behind him. Upon arriving home at night,  he would comment that “this is the greatest powder” he ever skied. Jim  got some of the locals involved in his dream: Fritz Kaufman, Mark  Wilson, and Evan Floyd. Together they purchased a second-hand  snowcat and started taking Forest Service personnel and other  interested skiers up the hill to sample the breathless beauty and  exceptional skiing conditions. Even the famous Engen brothers, who 

 

skied in the 1936 Olympics, visited and skied the mountain. It was  Sverre Engen who discovered the natural bowl of Baldy and suggested  that Baldy was the ideal spot for the mountain resort. Thus, Grand  Targhee Ski Resort was born.  

Jim had many accomplishments throughout his lifetime. He taught  himself how to tan leather and distill alcohol to run his car. He made  his own clothes, his own wheat bread and carrot juice, never the  conventional way. He did everything with flare and in a creative,  ingenious fashion. He played the guitar and had a lovely singing voice.  He and Melis sang duets for many years. He loved backpacking and  hiking. He loved soaking in natural hot pots and swimming in cool  mountain lakes. He overhauled VW engines and taught his children the  skills he learned. He invented fun dune buggies from VW Beetles. He  was a rifle marksman and could shoot the side of a playing card as his  target. He loved his music and would crank his favorite Neil Diamond  songs and start dancing and whooping as big as life for all to see and  enjoy. He was a swimmer and a diver and an avid marathon runner. He  started the John Colter Half-Marathon (13.1 miles) in Alta, Wyoming in  1976, which eventually had its start and finish lines in Driggs, Idaho.  Jim designed his own running shoes and published a booklet on “How to  Build Your Own Running Shoes”.  

Jim was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day  Saints throughout his life and in his retirement, Jim found great joy in  serving in the baptistry of the Rexburg Idaho Temple.  

Jim is survived by his wife, Melissa Jennings; his 5 children, Jason  (Marde) Christensen, Jami Christensen Barzee, Jubal (Laurel)  Christensen, Candace (Reed) Dayton, and Angela Hansen; his siblings  Barrie Christensen, Morrissa (Edward) Rich, Vetta Osborne, and sister in-law Sarah Christensen; and their families. He is also survived by 23  grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Jim is preceded in death by 

 

his parents, Etha Bleak Bohi, Wells Morris Christensen, his step father, Edwin Bohi, his oldest brother Charles (Chuck) Christensen,  and his younger sister, Jan Bohi; two of his grandchildren, Forest Caleb  Christensen and Brennan Marie Christensen Barzee, and two of his  nephews, Jesse Christensen and Leland Grant Christensen.  

A graveside service was held at the Pratt Cemetery on Tuesday,  February 14, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. A Memorial Service was held at the LDS  Stake Center in Driggs, Idaho, on February 15, 2023 at 11:00 a.m.  

In honor of Jim’s beautiful life well lived, his family invites you to follow  his example and offer a hand of kindness to anyone and everyone and to  hug your precious family members. Jim’s life of hard work and service  and his firm, long, heart-to-heart hugs are part of his legacy that will be  greatly missed. 

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

1:00 - 1:15 pm (Mountain time)

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Memorial Gathering

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain time)

Driggs LDS Stake Center

225 N First St, Driggs, ID 83422

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