The late Jack Christianson was a man of many talents. As a young man, he raced Harley-Davidson motorcycles and later was head of Andy Beckstoffer’s maintenance department for many years. He loved being in his garage, just puttering around, and he could fix nearly anything.
Jack and his wife, Helen, were also longtime members of Grace Episcopal Church in St. Helena. As such, Jack was a part of a small group that met early Wednesdays.
Rick Crebs, a small group member, remembers the role that Christianson played: “Jack would get here early and try to get the floor furnace going, which was really cranky, in the sanctuary to get some heat. Then he’d turn on all the burners in the oven in the kitchen to warm that up.”
Whoever showed up for the small group, both men and women, were welcome to stay for breakfast, which Christianson always cooked.
The Wednesday morning small group continues to meet. They gather for a Christmas breakfast each December. Crebs said this year, “We thought we’d invite everyone in the community who knew and loved Jack to come to breakfast.”
The breakfast, pancakes and bacon or sausage and probably scrambled eggs with juice and coffee will be served at 7 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13, at Grace Episcopal Church.
“Jack always did pancakes, so we’ll do that. And tell some stories of Jack,” Crebs said.
Crebs said he and his family moved here in 1985 and added, “Jack was probably the first person I met. He made a lasting impression and he met everyone well and loved everyone.”
Christianson died 11 years ago this December, in 2006, and his memorial service was held in the unfinished sanctuary of Grace Episcopal Church. The floors were concrete and there was visqueen plastic in the windows, because the stained glass windows had yet to be reinstalled.
“It was a really cold January day,” Crebs remembers, and Beckstoffer did part of the eulogy. “He said that Jack Christianson in his work overalls had more class than all the suits in San Francisco. That always stuck with me.”
Less than a year later, the Wednesday morning small group decided to do a memorial stained glass window in memory of Christianson. But then the 2008 recession happened “and nobody had a spare nickel,” Crebs said. When the economy began to recuperate, the group started to raise money for the stained glass window, which is installed in the upstairs church library in Bourn Hall.
“The reason I brought up Andy was that he was very kind and did a matching donation,” Crebs said.
Whitney LeBlanc, an Angwin resident and church member, is a master stained glass artist, who has designed and created numerous windows for the church. He worked with the group to design the window for Christianson and it was installed and recently dedicated. Crebs wants everyone who comes to breakfast to go upstairs and see it.
It is beautiful, with photos of Christianson and his favorite saying, “Let’s have a little bit of fun.”