Gene Franklin Christian went to his heavenly home on the evening of January 13, 2018 at the age of 75.
Gene was born June 9, 1942 in Wausau to the late Franklin and Viona (Steffen) Christian. He grew up on the family farm in the Town of Maine and graduated in 1960 from Wausau High School. He later completed the farm program at NTC. On November 3, 1962, Gene married the love of his life, Joyce Sturm at Trinity Lutheran Church, Wausau. They celebrated 55 years together this past November.
Gene served in the National Guard Red Arrow Division. Their unit was called into active duty during the Berlin Crisis. Upon returning, he worked for the Town of Maine in the Road Maintenance Department for 12 years. In 1974, he and Joyce became the 3rd generation of Christians to operate the family farm.
In his farming career, Gene was very environmentally conscious and strongly believed in utilizing best practice. He worked to have all of the farm land layed out in contoured strips and waterways to prevent soil erosion. He and Joyce received the "Conservation of Soil and Other Water and Related Resources" Award in 1983 from Marathon County Land Conservation. The Christian Farm was recognized as a Century Farm in 2009. Gene also served on the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Committee for Marathon County. He was a past board member (9 years) and President (4 years) of the Marathon County Farm Bureau. Gene was a board member of Pine River Cheese Factory Co-op for 5 years. He also was a past supervisor for the Village of Maine.
Gene was a lifelong member of Grace Ev. Lutheran Church. He served on the church council for 18 years - 12 years as the congregation's President. For many years he played dartball on the church league.
Survivors include his wife, Joyce, three children, Brenda (James Schalow), Keith (Jennie), and Scott, four grandchildren, Matthew (Tara Schepp), Sarah and Emily Christian and Sarah Schalow (Aaron Westman), sister, Marlene (Eugene) Fehlhaber, sister- in-law, Karen Sturm, nephew Brian (Marie) Heise, and nieces Jennifer and Kelly Fehlhaber. Gene is also survived by special friends - a group of 5 couples who have gathered to play cards monthly for the past 50+ years: Jim and Jeannie Klinger, Elden and Shirley Kopplin, LeRoy and Sandy Laabs, and Bob and Carol Zimmerman. He was further preceded in death by his parents- in- law, Ben and Esther Sturm, sister, Joyce (Roger) Heise, and infant twin siblings Gerald and Elaine Christian.
Gene was a very social individual who always enjoyed talking and visiting with family and friends. Rare times spent relaxing usually included deer hunting or a game (or several) of sheepshead and a cold beer...if polkas were playing in the background - all the better! As well, Gene supported his grandkids in all their endeavors – be it sports, music, dance, or academics. They, truly were, his great pride and joy.
Funeral services will be 11:00 a.m., Friday, January 19, 2018 at Grace Lutheran Church, 6655 Cty. Rd. A, Wausau. Reverend Joel Willitz will officiate. Burial will be in Maple Grove Cemetery. Visitation will be Thursday from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Helke Funeral Home, 302 Spruce St., Wausau and at the church on Friday from 9:00 a.m. until the time of services. You may sign our family guest book at helke.com.
Faith, Family, Friends and Farming pretty much covers it for you, Dad/Grandpa. You taught us to believe and trust in God and to be faithful...to Love and Support each other as family... to always stay close and connected to each other...to maintain friendships and relationships...to work hard and be devoted - at whatever you do... and NEVER do something “half-ass”.
Thank you, Dad/Grandpa - For being you. For giving us your strength, your faith, your character, your love and support. We will all miss you so very much. We will all carry you in our hearts always-Till we meet again.