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James Frederick Christensen

August 22, 1932 February 29, 2024
James Frederick  Christensen
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Obituary for James Frederick Christensen

James F. Christensen 

Our favorite cowboy and veteran, James F. Christensen of Melstone, passed into Glory on February 29,

2024. He was born August 22nd 1932 in Brainerd Minnesota to Abel and Clara (Scherfenberg)

Christensen. His roots were steeped in Montana before birth with his mother teaching school and being

the first postmistress in Rapelje MT. He traveled with her on trips back to the area to visit as a boy. His

young life was brightened by grand excursions with his older brothers that only country kids know how

to do.

His high school years found him attending the School of Agriculture in Grand Rapids MN. The teenage

boys enrolled there lived in a dormitory. They were educated in rounding their life skills in all subjects of

book learning, athletics, all things agriculture and livestock, business, running equipment, etc. They

enjoyed watching the Philadelphia Eagles football team use their space as a training camp as well as pro

baseball teams. The Eagles even won an NFL championship in those years! After graduating, he hit the

road to find work. Jobs weren’t plentiful and most were temporary. He went hungry more than once!

Dad enlisted into the Navy on December 19th, 1950 following his big brother’s footsteps. He would come

to stand inspection for General Douglas MacArthur, seeing wonders of the world sailing around it twice,

and war. He proudly served on the ship USS Owen DD-536 during the Korean War and became the

Electrician Forman. A destroyer would be a sitting duck without its two electric boards that ran the fore

and aft of the ship. Dad would conspire electric failures for training all those on board of what to do in

that situation. He also made “smoke” to cover the ship in enemy territory. The “tin can” sailors found

themselves drawing out and receiving enemy fire mostly at Wonsan Harbor and Chosin Reservoir. The

USS Owen was hit badly and reported sunk by North Korea, but it was propaganda. The Owen was hit,

but not sunk! The sailors were enraged that their locker of potatoes got blown up. Real potatoes were

revered and did a lot more for morale than instant ones!

Dad received serious injury while patrolling the tense waters of Formosa (Taiwan). A typhoon with

raging waters hit the ship at the moment he was going out of one hatch into another. The open hatch

came down breaking both of his ankles, but it also kept him from being washed out to sea. After months

of healing up in the Philippines, he island hopped on military planes to get back home. When he finally

reached the USA, he was not there 24 hours, only to be sent back to Tokyo because the officials said he

was needed. He then served on the USS Dortch until his honorable discharge in November 1954.

After dad’s military service, he landed back in Montana in the Melstone area. His boss and friend, Bill

Penniman, had business to discuss with Bud at the Holmberg Ranch. Dad discovered that Bud’s daughter,

Norma, was the prettiest girl in the country…and a very good cook! It would be that this fine catch would

soften his edges and hone his faith in Jesus. They married in 1956 and along came their two children, Kirt

and Ronda. They built the foundation of owning their future ranch, by working hard for ranches and

leasing land, including dad working for Jake at Jake’s Garage! Dad covered a lot of territory horseback

including surrounding areas of Mosby, Melstone, Ingomar, Custer, Hysham and Musselshell trailing

cattle, horses and sheep. He loved the old timers in these areas back then who were good to him, and

where he made good memories.

Dad was a hard-working provider of many talents. His jackknife was always sharp, his fencing pliers and

rope always on his saddle. He had most everything he needed to be prepared for wherever he was

going. He enjoyed hunting, trapping and fishing, but purposefully enjoyed watching animals and their

habits. He was an expert carpenter that built houses and did many requested projects for people all

over the country. He pulled out a guitar or mandolin now and again and we would have little family jam

sessions. He and son Kirt built a runway at the ranch to accommodate an air strip for Kirt’s Cessna 185.

Mom and dad (and sister Ronda!) were enthusiastic travelers for seeing local areas from the sky from

here to Wyoming. He loved going to Cowboy Poetry gatherings and was very proud of mom who

participated in those events.

When daughter Ronda and husband Greg bought the ranch, (Ronda was a fixture to all horseback

travels!) semi-retirement took a turn when dad faithfully took care of mom with her health issues a few

years before her passing. But he continued to enjoy the family tree of kids, grandkids and great grand


He was not afraid to go on adventures! At 86, he flew to Washington D.C. and at 90,the Grand Canyon.

Once in a lifetime trips enthusiastically provided by grandchildren Leighton and Sydni. At 90, he went

pontooning on the Yellowtail Dam with Kirt and Trish and Dane and Jaret’s families and took a day trip to

Slippery Ann Elk Refuge with Ronda and Greg to meet up with the rest of the family. He happily reported

that he didn’t know how many things were on his bucket list! Go dad! You are the last of the gentleman

cowboys and we will miss you! Thank you to all the staff at Sunflower Gardens Assisted Living for taking

such good care of dad.

Jim is preceded in death by his parents Abel and Clara, brothers Bob (Faye) Norton, King (Marguerite)

Norton, Don (Ione) Christensen, and Ted (Marlys) Christensen.

Survivors include son Kirt (Trish) Christensen, daughter Ronda (Greg) Seder, grandsons Dane, Jaret

(Lauren) Christensen, Leighton Seder, granddaughter Sydni Seder, great grandchildren Caden, Daven,

Haze, Jens and Kallen Christensen.

Funeral services will be held on Monday, March 11, 2024 at the Melstone Bible Church at 11:00 a.m.

Interment at the Musselshell Cemetery with Military Honors. Lunch to follow. Condolences may be

expressed at

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Previous Events





11:00 AM 3/11/2024 11:00:00 AM
Melstone Bible Church

420 1st St. West
Melstone, MT 59054

Melstone Bible Church
420 1st St. West Melstone 59054 MT
United States





12:30 PM 3/11/2024 12:30:00 PM
Musselshell Cemetery

175 South Musselshell Road
Musselshell, MT 59059

With Military Honors

Musselshell Cemetery
175 South Musselshell Road Musselshell 59059 MT
United States

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