Donald Christman (1933-2022) flew bombers, directed budgets, ushered at church


Donald O. Christman passed into the loving arms of his Savior, Jesus Christ on Saturday evening, January 8, 2022, after a brief illness at OSF St. Anthony Hospital in Rockford. He is survived by his wife Denise and stepson Steve Martin (Janine), adult children Sharon Moreland (Ed), Donna Brooks (Ken), and Todd Christman, grandchildren Sara Lowery (Jeff), Jason Christman, Alicia Clifford (Shane), Tim Brooks (Emily), Sean Moreland, and Justin Christman. He was also Great Grandpa to Emilee, Braden and Greyson Lowery, Kane Christman, and Eiley Clifford. In addition, survivors include sister-in-law Jeri McCormick, nephew Michael McCormick (Laura), and nieces Elin Malliet (Dan) and Amy Kittleson (Brian). Don was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Jean Christman, parents Talbot and Martha Christman, brother Richard and sister-in-law Margie Christman, and brother-in-law Tom McCormick.

Don was born September 25, 1933 in Washington D.C. to Tolbert (Chris) and Martha Christman. He was a graduate of the class of 1952 at Kettering-Fairmont High School in Dayton, OH, having demonstrated his significant athletic abilities on the varsity football and baseball teams. While attending the University of Cincinnati for his undergraduate degree, he met Jean McCormick, whose beauty and brains impressed him so much that it inspired him to excel in all that he undertook throughout the rest of his life. They were married on February 9, 1957 just prior to receiving his Air Force commission as a 2nd Lieutenant (ROTC) and graduating with honors from U. of C. with a degree in Accounting.

Following graduation, he began his 26 year career as an Air Force officer and navigator/ bombardier. He attended Undergraduate Navigator Training in Corpus Christi, TX, and went on to Bomb/Nav school at Mather AFB, CA the following year. Several new assignments and three children later, he was called to duty in Vietnam in 1968, where he flew 113 combat and combat support missions as a Bombardier/ Navigator in the B-66 light bomber, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal, among other decorations for airmanship and mission performance.

Just prior to his year in Vietnam, he attended The Ohio State University for a masters degree in Accounting and Finance, which led to his various assignments in the Air Force Comptroller, Accounting, Budget, Computer Science, and Management Analysis fields. Toward the end of his career, he was the Budget Director for the Pacific Command (PACAF), then was selected to the Inspector General Staff at Norton AFB, CA in 1982, where he retired as a full Colonel on February 29, 1984. His post-retirement employment included Budget Director at citrus producer Pure Gold, Budget Director at World Vision, and Sales Associate and Trainer at Met Life Insurance.

Don's priorities have always been God, family, and country, in that order. Even while at the Pentagon for one of his senior staff assignments, he found the time to support and participate in the Officers Christian Fellowship group for those assigned there. With each new reassignment and transfer, one of his first priorities was to find a local Bible-teaching church for the family. But his involvement didn't stop there. He served on several elder boards and as church treasurer.

Before his career in the Air Force was over, he had moved Jean and the family 19 times! This may explain Don's extrovert personality. He never met a person with whom he couldn't converse, and these qualities and more made him a stellar church usher, with an amazing ability to remember congregants' names. He also made it a personal responsibility to follow up with new attendees to make them feel welcome and appreciated.

In 1992, Don and Jean sold their home in Redlands, CA to move to Roscoe to be closer to their kids and grandkids. As Jean's health had been deteriorating for several years, Don became her primary care giver until her death in 2016. 

For almost two decades before that, Don and Jean would enjoy dinner out with two very good friends, Dave and Denise Martin. Even after Dave passed away in 2008, the three of them would continue the tradition until Jean died in 2016. Then, there were two. We're not sure who came up with the idea first, but a year later, Don married his second beautiful and brainy gal, and this one spoke French!

The new couple started traveling together and spending the winter months in the warm south, including Gulf Shores, AL, and the Florida Gulf Coast. Shortly after they were married, Don and Denise took a wonderful trip to France where Don had a chance to meet many of Denise's close and extended family. He often commented afterward how warm and cordial they all were -- not to mention that they laid out the red carpet for them in every way.

As is often the case later in life, medical issues created challenges for both Don and Denise. With the advent of the additional spectre of a "new" virus, their foundational medical issues took on a new relevance. After a brief illness in late December, 2021, this combination was too much to overcome for Don, and the day that the Lord knew about since before he was born arrived for him on January 8th. On that day, we lost a dear father, husband, grandpa, great grandpa, uncle, stepdad and friend, whose legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of so many who loved him.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Don to one or two of his favorite charities would be greatly appreciated. Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and Converge International Ministries are two organizations whose mission is to spread the gospel of Christ to the entire world.

Plans for a Celebration of Life are pending, and will most likely occur sometime this spring. 

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