Our good friend Jon Christensen passed away on Wednesday, August 28th, due to a heart attack. Jon would have been 64 on September 9th.
Jon wrote for the OB Rag and for the San Diego Free Press on occasion, and wrote under his initials “JEC”. His last piece – just posted on August 20th – called for the establishment of bicycle expressways throughout San Diego.
Much could be said about this former OBcean, who came to San Diego 40 years ago. He was a “survivor” at the County where he was employed for 30 years as staff and managers for elected officials. He was an avid sailor – twenty years ago, he designed and built his own trimaran and took it on its maiden sail in the Sea of Cortez.
Jon was a projects man, always had some project going on, whether designing a new boat, or building a landscaping wall in this backyard, or writing novels – he wrote 5 and was in the process of self-publishing them -, or running for City Council.
Being a candidate for the 2nd District was his latest project and he was just getting his campaign off the ground when he passed. He had begun writing position papers and studying MTS latest proposals.
Jon leaves his wife, Sally, of over 25 years, his son Eric, and his step-daughter Cynthia and her new husband Robb, and Cynthia’s three children, Nicolas, Madaline, and Christopher. Jon and Sally had lived in the Bay Park neighborhood of Clairemont for a quarter of a century, finding their perch overlooking Tecolote Canyon.
Also more recently, Jon developed a passion for mass transit, and had become a constructive and informed critic of our trolleys and railroads. He was amazed at how far behind America and California were compared to Japan, China and Europe in terms of high-speed rail.
Very active physically, Jon could be seen riding his bicycle around Mission Bay, or catching waves off the small jetty in OB, and playing golf every Thursday – all of this in any one week. He grew up in surfing the shores of LA County.
He had a series of health problems – one of his favorite sayings was “getting old sucks” – and went through a bout of graves disease, he complained recently of arthritis, and he had a quadruple-bypass surgery 6 years ago. Never one to allow his problems to get the best of him, Jon forged on with his life and his projects – especially now that he was retired.
Politically conscious having gone to college during the Vietnam war days, and achieving a degree in sociology, he had lived with activists from VVAW – Vietnam Vets Against the War up in Los Angeles in the early Seventies. Jon grew up in San Fernando valley, went to a small college in Nebraska, until he made his way west again.
Jon and his then-wife Bonnie arrived in Ocean Beach on Labor Day, 1973, and found old friends living just steps from the beach. Over the next few years, Jon was involved in numerous progressive causes in OB – the Human Rights Coalition, the Community Planning Group, Common Ground, to name a few. For years Jon and roommates lived on Brighton Avenue and his home became a social and political center for a while.
When he left OB, he went on to obtain his Masters in Social Work, got an entry job at the County, met his future wife Sally there where she worked as an accountant. They settled in Clairemont and began making a new life for themselves.
One of his personal highpoints was developing and writing up a grandiose proposal for the South Bay region of San Diego, and he tried to pitch it to several folks with deep pockets, but they couldn’t go for his far-sighted vision of what and how that area could be developed ecologically and with high levels of self-sustainability.
Jon always kept in touch with his friends who stayed in OB. He was always supportive of neighborhood and grassroots activism here – which was his touchstone – and became involved in numerous environmental issues over the years, and always bringing a practical attitude to dealing with politics.
This is what led Jon to thinking he had to run for City Council. He was very disgusted with the current crop of politicos out there, and insisted that what government needed was non-politicians who could get the job done.
If he had lasted, Jon Eric Christensen would have been a candidate for District 2 – the district that includes Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, southwest Clairemont, Point Loma. We are the worse off now that he was decided to take his projects elsewhere.
Jon has really not passed. He’s just on one of his numerous train trips or cruises or sailings and he’ll soon be back with all kinds of critiques of the method and manner of his trip. That’s the way he is.