Update: City mourns the death of worker and ‘good guy’ ChristophersenDennis P. Christophersen, Hudson’s water utility director for the past 19 years, died Saturday of a heart attack while putting up Christmas lights at his home on Laurel Avenue. His death at age 61 has left many friends, family members and co-workers at City Hall grieving.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Dennis P. Christophersen, Hudson’s water utility director for the past 19 years, died Saturday of a heart attack while putting up Christmas lights at his home on Laurel Avenue.
His death at age 61 has left many friends, family members and co-workers at City Hall grieving.
“He’s one of the good guys. He will be missed,” Community Development Director Dennis Darnold said following Monday night’s City Council meeting.
Darnold, fighting to keep his emotions in check, said Christophersen had made it his goal to make the Hudson Water Utility one of the best in Wisconsin, and he had achieved it.
Earlier, during the City Council meeting, Alderperson Scot O’Malley recalled how Christophersen had spent a morning with him when he was new to the council joyfully explaining the workings of the water utility.
“His enthusiasm, his zest for what he did” was palpable, O’Malley said.
Christophersen and his wife of 40 years, Cindy, had been to their son Ty’s home Saturday morning to bake Christmas cookies with their granddaughters, and pose with them for a Christmas card photo.
Cindy said that when they returned home at midday, Christophersen told her he was going to put up some outdoor Christmas lights while it was still warm.
She saw him working in front of the house as she sat addressing Christmas cards, she said. But then some time passed without him being there.
She went to look for him and found him lying on the ground in the back yard.
A St. Croix EMS ambulance took him to Hudson Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Asked to describe Christophersen as a husband and father, Cindy said she could sum it up in two words: “The best.”
“As a husband, he was my soulmate. I couldn’t have had a better husband,” she added.
The Christophersens met 41 years ago at a Fourth of July picnic at a little beach near their hometowns of Thorp and Stanley. Both were 20.
He got drafted into the Army in November and they were married in Bamburg, Germany, the following October.
“We decided that we would get married over there and see Europe in the first part of our lives instead of the last part of our lives,” Cindy said.
They moved to Hudson in 1970 after he took a job with an excavating company that was later bought out by Zappa Brothers Inc.
Christophersen went to work for the water utility in 1978 and was promoted to director in 1989.
“He ran a great department. He always had a smile and a story,” Mayor Dean Knudson said in announcing his death at the close of Monday’s City Council meeting.
Cindy Christophersen said her husband never turned down a telephone call about the water utility.
“No matter what the hour of day or night, he went out and took care of everybody. And it was with a smile,” she said.
She said he lived by the golden rule, and taught his children and grandchildren to live that way, too.
“He just had the kindest heart.”
The visitation for Christophersen was Tuesday at O’Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson. His funeral is at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17 at St. Patrick Catholic Church.
His burial with full military honors will be in Willow River Cemetery.
Christophersen is survived by three children — Trent, Ty and Tara — and five grandchildren, in addition to his wife and other family members.