Steven and Diane Christianson

Steven Christianson, 72, and Diane Christianson, 71, died on Friday, October 2, 2020. 

Steve was born to Walter and Dorothy Christianson on September 22, 1948 in Minneapolis. He was the oldest of four children and took his role as big brother seriously. He grew up in Fergus Falls and graduated from Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in 1967. Steve was a fierce competitor and played multiple sports. He also took an early interest in fishing and got his dad to take him out on occasion. Later, he loved to teach and take his little brother out.

Diane was born to Ingvald and Lavina Askeland on June 5, 1949 in Buffalo Center, Iowa. She enjoyed living on the family farm and especially loved her sheep - one of which she snuck into the house for a picture with her and the Christmas tree. Diane learned generosity from her mom at their strawberry patch. They sometimes gave away more strawberries than they sold and sent pickers away with even more food. Diane’s friend Becky interested Diane in attending Hillcrest, where she met Steve. Diane also graduated in 1967.

Steve and Diane were high school sweethearts, but that’s not to say there weren’t bumps in the road. Steve liked to travel around the country with his friends after high school, even hitchhiking on occasion. He attended Fergus Falls Community College and Moorhead State University, where his dad dropped him off at the door and told him to go to school. Diane attended Moorhead State University and Bethesda Nursing School in St. Paul and worked as a nurse in Blue Earth for a short time until Steve proposed. They were engaged for one month, during which Steve traveled, and Diane wasn’t quite sure if he would show up for the ceremony. He did, and they were married on September 30, 1972 in Rake, Iowa.

Despite a challenging courtship, they celebrated 48 wonderful years of marriage just two days before their death. Diane would jokingly say Steve was “the worst boyfriend and the best husband.” Steve recently remarked that soon after they got married, he learned what marital bliss was. They spent their first year of marriage in Pelican Rapids, where Steve’s first postcollege job was as a live turkey hanger. Soon after, they moved to Fergus Falls, where they bought the “starter house” they would live in for the rest of their lives. Steve then worked at the Regional Treatment Center in Fergus Falls as a human service technician for over 32 years before retiring in 2005. Steve was well known for his pranks at work, but he was also known to be kind and generous with his time. Even after retiring, Steve traveled along with group home residents on road trips around the area. He was a loyal volunteer at the Veterans Home and helped out at many of their Sunday church services. Steve loved fishing and especially loved taking people fishing with him. He was a phenomenal fly fisherman and treated many people to the fruits of his labor by hosting fish fries.

Diane worked as a nurse her entire career, with a break of several years to focus on raising their children. Her last job before retiring was at Prairie Community Services, where she was a licensed practical nurse in group homes. Diane had the heart of a servant, which extended far past her nursing career. She touched an untold number of people with her cooking, baking, friendship, and countless other acts of service. She was a gifted, artistic gardener, evident through their yard filled with colorful blooms. Diane loved antiques, thrift stores, rummage sales and found objects.  She had a beautiful fashion sense and also decorated their home and garden in a warm, unique style that was hers alone. One step into their front door brings a hundred memories at once due to this passion for decorating, as well as the lingering aroma of the amazing meals that she lovingly cooked.

The light of Steve and Diane’s lives were their children and grandchildren. Trevor was born in 1976, and Titus was born in 1981. They devoted their time to their boys’ activities and hobbies. Steve taught Trevor and Titus to play tennis, and he rewarded them with a savings bond the first time they beat him. He continued to challenge them in table tennis once he could no longer handle a full court game. Steve and Diane spent untold hours at the rink and in the gym, not only during their boys’ school years, but also long after. They were frequent fans at Otter, Comet, Rocket, and Spartan activities of every type, from football to Nordic skiing. Diane provided chocolate chip cookies for a countless number of kids, and Steve often wrote the athletes personal notes after their games.

They delighted in their five grandsons, spending time with them more days than not. Steve spent hours fishing with them and patiently teaching them the basics. He would take them into his basement shop and teach them how to use tools, afterward teasing their parents that the kids were “playing with power tools.” They both loved singing the boys songs and rocking them to sleep. Diane thrilled the boys with her thrift store finds and was always ready to play on the floor with them. Buttermilk pancakes and fish fries were a breakfast tradition, and Steve fished throughout the week to ensure he’d have a large enough catch for their company. Summers were full of day trips to Glendalough State Park, with Grandma’s overflowing picnic basket and Grandpa’s fishing gear ready to go. 

In their retirement, Steve and Diane enjoyed traveling, taking trips with family and friends, and visiting family members in Iowa. They loved last minute adventures with Steve’s siblings, including cruises and trips to the West Coast.

Steve and Diane loved people, and they showed it through friendship, food, fun and service. It was not uncommon for total strangers to be invited to their dinner table, such as international students from Hillcrest. Diane’s tender heart and Steve’s gift for gab were a perfect combination in hosting hundreds upon hundreds of guests for meals throughout the years. Diane will live in infamy for her chocolate chip cookies; paired with Steve’s world-class fish fries, a regular meal to them looked like a five-course dinner to new guests. 

They also loved their dogs, Maggie I and Maggie II. Both Maggies were spoiled with hikes around the county. Steve and Diane could be found in nature more often than not, whether it be fishing at a lake, biking, or hiking through the woods. Steve took many photographs on all of their journeys and happily shared them in his frequent letters to friends and family. Their love of music took them to concerts near and far, and the radio above the refrigerator was playing Classical MPR or a favorite album even if they weren’t home.

Steve and Diane were open-minded and open-hearted. They gave people the benefit of the doubt and always helped those in need. They were relentlessly kind and optimistic. They were gracious, patient and without complaint. They were encouragers and cheerleaders. They were the world’s best mom and dad, sister and brother, and friend to all. Their foundational faith in God was all-encompassing and guided their every decision in life. Blessed be their memory.

Steve and Diane were greeted in heaven by their parents, Walter, Dorothy, Ingvald and Lavina; Diane’s sister, Lila; Diane’s brothers-in-law, Donnie, Arlyn and Butch; Diane’s sister-in-law, Pam; their great-nephew, Carter; and their favorite four-legged companions, Maggie I, Maggie II and Maddy. 

They are lovingly remembered by their sons, Trevor (Katy) Christianson of Fargo, and Titus (Mindy) Christianson of Fergus Falls; their beloved grandchildren, Soren, Leif, Thomas, Finn and Walter; Steve’s siblings, Joanie (Bruce) Ver Steeg, Heidi (Kurt) Mortenson, and Chuck (Ramona Jacobs) Christianson; Diane’s siblings, Koreen (Karen) Askeland, Orv Askeland and Carolyn Skogen; a host of nieces and nephews, and countless friends.

An outdoor funeral will be held for family and friends on Saturday, October 10 at 2 p.m. in DeLagoon Park. Masks are required, and social distancing is encouraged. Steve and Diane were very careful to follow public health guidelines, and we want to honor their wishes by doing so at their service. Please bring a camping chair and dress comfortably for the weather. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Glendalough Park Partners and Young Life.

Arrangements are provided by the Olson Funeral Home in Fergus Falls.

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