College mourns the death of Gracia Christensen

by Betsey Norgard

Lilly Gracia Christensen, professor emerita of English and widow of Bernhard M. Christensen ’22, ’25 Sem, Augsburg’s fifth president, died in St. Paul on April 21 at the age of 97.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a daughter of Norwegian immigrant parents, she graduated from Hunter College and received a master’s degree in English from Radcliffe College.

Christensen came to Minneapolis in 1935 when she and Bernhard married, and he returned to Augsburg to teach and later to serve 24 years as its president. During that time, as the wife of the president, she hosted students, faculty, and visitors to the College, including the king of Norway. She was also active in community organizations and a frequent speaker, writer, and editor.

For over 50 years, she was a member of the Trinity Lutheran Congregation and a church leader. She taught religious education in the Minneapolis Public Schools and was a teacher at Lutheran Bible Institute.

In Augsburg’s English Department, where she served on the faculty for 16 years, she is remembered for her counseling and mentoring of many students.

Christensen is survived by a sister, Evelyn; a brother, George; three daughters, Nadia, Marya, and Sonya; and other family and friends. A memorial service was held on June 21 in Hoversten Chapel.

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