Rogers area mourns death of community leader Chuck Christian
Not one newspaper article, not one plaque, not one lifetime achievement award will ever sum up what Charles “Chuck” Christian means to not just Rogers but the community at large that he served his whole life.
And so it was with a heavy heart that Christian’s death was announced to community members this week. Christian died Saturday, Nov. 16, of an apparent blood clot that was created post-surgery for a hernia.
Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen summed up Christian’s impact this way: “Perhaps knowing what ended the life of such a strong community leader will help bring you some peace in your day. It goes without saying that Chuck’s passing truly creates a hole in our community and one that will be very difficult to fill. His legacy as a founding member of this community will live on for eternity. We have all lost a good man and a good friend.”
Legacy indeed, and where to begin? The “Rock of Rogers” spent his whole life there, with humble beginnings on a family farm, and a career that was met with spectacular success as he founded Christian Realty and Christian Builders in the early 1970s. He transformed that success into numerous avenues of community outreach, such as being a charter member of the Rogers Lions Club and serving as current Rogers Rotary Club President; the first Dayton Fire Chief; Three Rivers Community Foundation founding member and board member; Guardian Angels senior center board member; ROADS Education Foundation board member; and Rogers Toastmaster member.
The I-94 Chamber of Commerce, another pillar of the community impacted directly by Christian, sent out an email announcement to all its members celebrating Christian for being “a highly respected business and community leader.” The chamber welcomed all of Christian’s friends to join for a “Celebration of Life” Thursday, Nov. 21, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Rockwoods Banquet Center. In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer donations to the Three Rivers Community Foundation.
Christian’s daughter, Robin, said there was so much history about her father that she had to “Google” him to see all the news articles and links that are evidence of his impact on the community.
“There’s just so much of it,” she said. “His history is so rich in this area.”
Robin Christian said her father was recently immersed with Rogers’ 100-year anniversary.
“That sense of pride, sense of community was installed into him by his parents,” Robin said. “He was raised on the farm. If he saw that someone needs help, then he said, ‘That’s what we do.’ He saw a need in the community and he dug in. He found people he could network with and he found a way to make things happen.”
Christian’s wife, Barb, said her husband always felt a sense of responsibility. “He had so many good friends,”she said. “He felt fortunate to give back.”
Christian’s lasting legacy was passed directly onto his children and grandchildren, some of whom, including Robin, serve on the Three Rivers Community Foundation Board.
Three Rivers was particularly close to his heart, Robin said, whether helping students attend the Wolf Ridge environmental center or setting up a program providing lunches for under-privileged students.
“The money we raised (in Three Rivers) goes to an endowment,” Robin said. “A smaller percentage goes to scholarships for all three Elk River School District high schools. Others are for start-up money for worthy causes in the community.”
Christian was also a key player in setting up the Rogers Vets Memorial that was dedicated a couple months ago.
“He kind of changed how the flow of the community,” Robin said.
To name a few of the many, Three Rivers awarded Christian for lifetime achievement, he was named the Small Businessman of the Year by the Elk River Chamber of Commerce, and he and Barb received a past Rogers Lions Community Service Award.
And don’t think that the couple of fingers missing on Christian’s right hand (from an accident working on a press machine) meant that he couldn’t give a firm handshake. Indeed he “definitely believed in a firm handshake,” Barb said.
In one last selfless act that defines Christian’s giving character, the family noted that he donated his body for scientific purposes to the University of Minnesota.
“That’s my dad, he believed in giving completely,” Robin said.
And give he did, perhaps as much as any Rogers resident who ever lived.
Charles “Chuck” Christian, 75, is survived by wife, Barb; children, Charlie and LeeAnn Christian; Bill Christian and Deanna Ward; Pam and Kenny Roden; Cindi and Scott Lorge; and Robin Christian (Brad Richardson).
Further survived by grandchildren, Amie (David), Tina (Dan), Cash (Anna), Broc (Nicole), Ellie, Chad, Shari (Rob), Joni (Jason), Wayne (Lisa), Kali
(Mike), Drew, Max, Charles, Alex, and Jack; 20 great-grandchildren; siblings, Michelle (Tom), (Laverne), David (Cathy), Rollie (Rosann), Jeanie (Rich), Renee (Tom), Greg (Sharon). Other loving relatives and friends. Preceded in death by his parents and brother Jeff.