Boyd ChristensonBoyd Christenson, age 73, died peacefully in his home in Fargo surrounded by his family on Tuesday, December 22, 2009.
Boyd Christenson, age 73, died peacefully in his home in Fargo surrounded by his family on Tuesday, December 22, 2009.
Boyd was born in Rugby, ND on February 29, 1936. He grew up in Minot where at an early age he discovered a passion and talent for communicating with others, both personally and over the airwaves. He enrolled at the University of North Dakota in 1955, where he earned a reputation as a wildly entertaining lip-syncer and Flickertail Follies emcee extraordinaire.
At UND Boyd met Marlene Huber while working as a busboy at her sorority house. They were married on June 20, 1959, and Boyd not only gained a devoted life partner, but parents-in-law Laura and John Huber who embraced him as their son. Boyd and Marlene brought three children into the world and their union flourished for fifty years. Family life in the Christenson household was centered on values that included the primacy of spirituality and education, and the expression of hospitality and generosity. Boyd and Marlene reveled in the social, artistic, and athletic interests of their children and helped them to establish deep roots in the community as well as giving them wings to explore the broader world, its cultures and peoples. Boyd also forged many timeless friendships on fishing and hunting trips as well as on the golf links.
Boyd’s career as a television and radio broadcaster and public speaker spanned over five decades, and his characteristic good humor and razor-sharp wit touched audiences across the region, whether it was during his tenure at WDAY as sportscaster and Party Line host, his years as the “Voice of the Bison,” his incisive interviews with prominent North Dakotans, or the thousands of conversations he shared with callers on his radio talk shows. He was especially charged by the exhilaration of being in the press box with other sports aficionados doing play-by-play and pushing the button to welcome a caller onto one of his radio shows. He once described hosting a talk radio program as “playing chess at 100 miles per hour,” and his renowned verbal, analytical, and comedic skills made him, as well as his listeners, winners every time.
Throughout his career Boyd was recognized with a multitude of awards and honors. He would often jokingly claim that he was a blue-ribbon-winning 4-H project of an older cousin. In actuality, he was named North Dakota Sportscaster of the Year in 1968, 1969, and 1973, as well as All-Time Best Sportscaster in a Fargo Forum poll in 1987. He was inducted into the North Dakota Sportscaster and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1990 and the NDSU Bison Hall of Fame in 1992. He was especially gratified by his tireless efforts covering the “Flood of the Century” on KFGO Radio in 1997 for which he received a Peabody Award. However, nothing made Boyd more proud than the friendships he accrued with individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life. Whether you were a waitress at the Fargo Holiday Inn serving him a meal before he regaled a crown of hundreds of sugar beet growers, a prominent national celebrity on the Party Line set, or a Minnesota Twins player on the mound with Boyd’s microphone under your chin, he befriended you with respect, genuine curiosity about your life and interests, and a warmth that left you feeling as if you were an intimate friend.
Those who saw or heard Boyd on the air remember him as a personality who never missed a prank or a one-liner, but many also remember his deep capacity for attentiveness and empathy. Boyd was one of those rare public figures that knew the importance of listening, and those fortunate enough to know him personally saw that ethos realized as a way of life. Boyd always had time for others, from the callers he befriended on his radio shows to the family he cared for deeply; his heart was especially inclined toward small children, the elderly, and marginalized members of the community.
Boyd lived his entire life in North Dakota, and maintained a passionate regard for its geography and people. He served the city of Fargo in particular in a variety of ways, formally and informally, helping to build up the life of the community and make its citizens feel proud of its vibrant and determined nature.
While Boyd’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in 2004 challenged many of the qualities that defined him, it did not alter the enthusiasm and compassion for which he was known. He maintained a remarkably positive attitude that demonstrated strength and courage. When he could no longer drive a car, even at the peak of winter, he would don his parka and tenaciously trek from his home to Hornbacher's grocery store to engage shoppers in convivial conversation. Even as his memory faded, Boyd continued to make people laugh and make the best of a situation that was exceedingly difficult for a man of his nature.
Ultimately, Boyd was a good and faithful steward of the many gifts and talents given to him, doling them out with artistry, intelligence, compassion, and humor.
Boyd is survived by his wife Marlene of Fargo; his daughter Mona Christenson (Gregory) Barz of Nashville, TN; his son Mark Christenson of Grand Forks, ND; his son-in-law Lucho (Marlene) Espejo of Fargo; his grandchildren Simon and Lucy Barz, Alyssa and Jessica Christenson, and Natalia, Juan, Luis, and Danny Espejo; his mother-in-law Laura Huber of Fargo; his sisters Connie Flanagan of Blaine, MN, and Marcia (Michael) Noon of Parker, CO; his brother Ed Fox of Minot, ND; and three nephews and a niece. He is preceded in death by his mother Alice Fox, his daughter Laura Christenson Espejo, and his father-in-law John Huber.
There will be a prayer service on Sunday, December 27 at 5:30 at Nativity Catholic Church, with visitation starting at 3:30. The Funeral Mass will be on Monday, December 28 at 11:00 at Nativity Catholic Church, with visitation two hours prior to the funeral in the church. Burial will be at Riverside Cemetery, Fargo. Memorials are preferred to the Laura Christenson Espejo Social Justice Fund c/o The Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation, 502 1st Avenue North, Suite 202, Fargo, ND 58102. People are also encouraged to enrich this season of light and love by reading aloud the book A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg or uplifting someone with a humorous story in honor of Boyd.
Arrangements are entrusted to the care of Boulger Funeral Home. Online guestbook: www.boulgerfuneral home.com