Melvin (Mel) Christianson, 79, Devils Lake, ND, died on Wednesday, December 4, 2002, in Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, ND.
Mass of the Christian burial was held Monday, December 9, 2002, in St. Joseph Catholic Church, Devils Lake. Burial was in St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery.
Military honors were accorded by the Neathery-Simensen Post No. 756 Devils Lake Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Melvin Martin Christianson was born October 19, 1923, to Olaf and Mary Ann (Monaghan) Christianson on the family farm northwest of Oberon, ND. Mel was the eighth of 10 sons born to his mother. He grew up on the family farm homesteaded by his grandfather, Patrick Monaghan. He attended school in Oberon. He was a member of the basketball team which traveled by train through a blizzard to Minot, ND, to play in a state basketball tournament in 1941. They took 3rd place. In 1941 he was "recruited" to play basketball at the University of North Dakota and upon arrival was directed to the football field. He lived in University Station as it became part of Student Housing, and was supplied with a study lamp fueled by electricity (a first), compliments of the UND athletic department. He was a member of ROTC at the University.
As hostilities flared in western Europe, Mel enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on December 10, 1942. He attended Purdue University while waiting further orders for officers' training. He became impatient to serve his country and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on March 14, 1944. He attended Northwestern Midshipmen School and was commissioned ensign. He served on the U.S. Pamina (Third Amphibious Force) which was sent to the South Pacific. His ship was maneuvering 150 miles off of Japan's coast preparing for invasion when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He was commissioned lieutenant (JD) and continued to serve in the Navy Reserves after his discharge in 1946.
Mel returned to his studies at the University of North Dakota. He married Jean Charlotte Bohlig on November 13, 1948, in Minnewaukan, ND. They had six children.
Mel graduated from UND Law School in 1949, always crediting the GI Bill as the best law ever passed by Congress. He practiced law for one year in Enderlin, ND, then moved to Minnewaukan where he established a solo practice and served as states attorney for Benson County for 13 years. Mel was instrumental in building the swimming pool and golf course (Scented Sands because it was built on a dump ground). He also started the Boy Scout program.
In 1963 Mel joined F.E. "Frank" Foughty in Devils Lake to form the law partnership of Foughty and Christianson. Mel and Frank practiced law until December 2000 when after 52 years they both retired. He was a member of the Lake Region Bar Association, Northeast Regional Bar Association and the North Dakota State Bar Association.
Mel was extremely proud of his country and was very active in veterans' organizations, serving on local, state and national committees of the American Legion while in Minnewaukan and Devils Lake. He was commander of the Disabled Veterans and a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also belonged to Kiwanis, Elks, Eagles, Knights of Columbus and 40 & 8. He was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Devils Lake.
Mel's family was always his first priority -- rarely missing any events of his children. He was known to his grandchildren as "Toy Grandpa." He had a tremendous love of all people and was always curious about life. With few words, his sense of humor brought a smile to everyone he encountered. He was an avid sports fan and in later years became obsessed with NFL football. He never lost touch with his farming roots and reveled in the marvels of nature. He was a gardener who bragged about his tomatoes. He enjoyed hunting and traveling.
Mel is survived by his wife, Jean; three sons and two daughters-in-law, John (Melody) Christianson, Devils Lake, Paul Christianson, Devils Lake, and Neil (LeAnn) Christianson, Billings, MT; three daughters and three sons-in-law, Ann (John) Mahoney, Center, ND, Mary (Doug) Berg, Devils Lake, and Gail (Bill) Halgren, Apple Valley, MN; 13 grandchildren, Chad, Katelynn, Kendall and Abreanna Christianson, Justin Spoor, Jill Keegan, James Christianson, Carly, Allie, Johnny Pat and Jackie Mahoney, Tricia and Jason Berg; five great-grandchildren; one brother, Lester (Ruth) Christianson, Devils Lake.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and eight brothers, Everett Wallace, Maurice Wallace, Earl Wallace, Clifford Wallace, Kenneth Wallace, Lyle Wallace, Alvin Wallace and Henry Christianson.
Memorials may be directed to Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 613 Annapolis, MD 21404-0613.
Melvin's grandchildren served as pallbearers. The rosary was led by the Knights of Columbus and music was provided by Dick Regan, soloist and Lynda Pearson, organist
Music for the Mass was provided by Donovan Foughty and JoDee Lagein.