Frank Christensen, one of Utah's most accomplished and renowned athletes and industrialists, died of natural causes on Sept. 6, 2001, at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was 91.
Frank was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 1, 1910, to Emily L. and Louis J. Christensen, and he eventually joined his five brothers and three sisters working in the family machine shop business founded by his father.
He was an extraordinary athlete who was named All-State in baseball, basketball, and football two years running at Granite High School. Christened "Crashing Chris" by teammates and sports fans, he later played fullback at the University of Utah where he was the school's first All American in two consecutive years. He set many records, some of which still stand, and he is credited with scoring 13 points in 13 seconds in a game against Colorado College, an amazing feat memorialized in Ripley's Believe It or Not. He was later named to the College Football Hall of Fame and was recognized as Utah's Athlete of the Century. He was also honored by Sports Illustrated as the magazine's Silver Anniversary All American.
After college, he played fullback for the Detroit Lions from 1934 through 1937 and was a member of the famous Lions team that won the 1835 World Championship against the New York Giants (a precursor to the modern Super Bowl).
After returning home from Detroit, he and a former Lions teammate joined to develop a new business in a corner of the family machine shop. The products would be drill bits utilizing industrial diamonds, and they would soon revolutionize the world's mining and petroleum industries. Called Christensen Diamond Products Company, the firm grew to become the world's largest producer of industrial diamond products with numerous diamond bit factories around the world employing thousands of employees. Christensen diamond drilling bits remain today the standard of the industries for which they were developed.
After retirement, Frank became a benefactor to many organizations including the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, the University of Utah, and several of Salt Lake City's medical schools and hospitals.
Friends and family will remember him as an inspirational mentor who always provided words of encouragement and a helping hand. He was extraordinarily generous with his time and resources to all who knew him, and he was a dependable man of unfailing character and integrity.
Frank is survived by his wife, Betty Campbell Christensen of Salt Lake City, Utah; his daughter, Carolyn Christensen Bollinger of San Jose, California; his son, Frank Louis Christensen of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; his stepchildren Wayne and Lora Petersen and Scott and Jill Slocum of Bremerton, Washington; and 24 grandchildren and step-grandchildren. Preceded in death by his grandson, David Bollinger, and step-daughter Debra Lee Passey.
At Frank's request, there will be no funeral service or burial ceremony. A gathering of family and friends will be held at Larkin Mortuary, 260 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah, at 2 p.m. on Mon., September 10, 2001.