Chesterton Tribune



Dr. Howard Christofersen passes away at nearly 93

Back To Front Page


Dr. Howard Christofersen, for many years The Chess Master, as he was called volunteering after school at the Duneland Boys and Girls Club here in Chesterton, passed away Sunday, August 7, two days shy of his 93rd birthday.

Howard, born in Chicago in 1923 to parents who were home on leave from their work as missionaries in South Africa, spent his childhood on a remote mission station in that country, home-schooled by his mother, who had been a schoolteacher before entering mission work, and helping to raise food for the familyís table, with many an adventure along the way, leaving him with a rich source of stories he never missed an opportunity to share with others.

He attended North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, where he had also recently graduated from high school, but at the outset of the war joined the U.S. Navy to take advantage of their V-12 program to train physicians, completing the necessary undergraduate work at Wabash College before entering the University of Illinois Medical School, which he completed in 1946.

In 1946, while in a Residency Program in Pathology at St. Lukes Hospital (Now Rush, in Chicago) he met and later married a nurse, Ruth Gregersen. He did not complete this program, however, as the U.S. Government had other plans and under duress he took a commission as a doctor in the U.S. Army Reserve during the Korean Conflict. His MASH unit never saw action as they spent the duration of that war training to be air-dropped, mostly at Camp Atterbury.

In 1953 he received a call to a position in a mission hospital in Durban, South Africa, and spent most of the next 12 years there, only returning to the U.S. when the Apartheid Government deported him as a result of his ongoing work there as Medical Director of McCord Hospital, at that time an institution for non-whites only.

Returning to school after fulfilling his obligations to the United Church Board for World Ministries, he studied to become a surgeon at Hines VA Hospital in Maywood, Illinois, and upon completion of that program went into private practice in Sterling, Illinois, where he ultimately became staff physician for Northwestern Steel and Wire.

When he retired he and his wife moved to Anacortes, Washington, to be near other members of his family, but when she died in 2004 he moved to Porter to live with his son. When the Boys and Girls Club opened here in Chesterton he was overjoyed, having been the key person involved in the establishment and growth of the same club while he was in Anacortes, and spent many an enjoyable afternoon attempting to teach the children there not only the moves of chess, but life lessons as well.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur Fridjof and his mother Julia Maria (Rau), wife Ruth, sisters June Dahle, Mabel, and Beatrice Goodrich McLaskey, and his eldest son David, and he is survived by sons Paul (Kathryn Cochran), Mark (Bette), and daughters Lynn Marie and Karen Ruth.

He was a member of St. Johnís Church here in Chesterton where he served on the Board of Deacons. A memorial service is being planned.


Posted 8/9/2016





Search This Site:

Custom Search