William S. Christy Obituary
November 23, 1932 – April 9, 2019
William Stephen Christy was born to Henry and Irene Christy on November 23, 1932 in Milburn, Nebraska at the home of his grandparents, Steve and Gertie Daily. Bill and his family lived near the small village of Milburn, which was located on the Middle Loup River. When Bill was four years old, they moved to a farm four miles from his grandparents, and from his best friend at the time, Jim Daily. Back then, this meant Bill and Jim would very seldom see each other, after being accustomed to running over a nearby bridge to visit whenever they wanted. As he got older, Bill spent much time at his Grandma Daily’s, fishing in the river. He often talked about his friendship with his grandmother, and how she taught him to swim. Bill and his brother Tom would camp in the little hamburger shack their mother had bought for $5 at an auction and had placed near the river. Bill attended school at Columbia Table and Windy Point country schools. He graduated from Anselmo High School in 1950. He then sold one of his few calves and used the money to attend Kearney State Teacher’s College for one year. A small brick country school in the Sandhills near Brewster, Nebraska was his first teaching adventure. He boarded with Mark and Minnie Turner. This was probably his favorite teaching experience. He and Mark spent many hours fishing and hunting. On December 21, 1952, Bill married his high school sweetheart, Dwana Rae Axtell, daughter of Forest and Edna Axtell. Bill then taught at Gates, Nebraska and Anselmo, Nebraska. Bill and Dwana’s first home was north of Anselmo. They then moved to Anselmo in order to have running water, a bathroom, and electricity. Their first two daughters, Pamela Rae and Penny Lynn, were born in the nearby town of Broken Bow. When the girls were quite small, the family moved to Kearney so Bill could finish his Bachelor’s degree. In January of 1961, Dwana’s brother Gene moved them to Sidney in his cattle truck. As they arrived in Sidney, they encountered one of the worst wind and dirt storms they had ever seen. They wondered why they ever left the Sandhills. Their third daughter, Terri Jo, was born in Sidney about a year later. Bill taught Junior High English, Creative Writing, and Computers for Sidney Public Schools until his retirement in 1998. Bill would recall that his father, a lifetime farmer/rancher, would ask: “Bill, when are you going to get a real job.” Bill was a lifetime learner. While serving as a teacher, he attended summer college classes at Kearney State College to earn his Masters in English. In lieu of writing a thesis, he was granted permission to showcase his storytelling magic by writing a book entitled, “And Never Let Us Cry”. In this book he developed characters from his childhood, with fictitious names such as Orrie Fenster, Emil Flitmore, Fenlow Quinnbaugh, and Reverend Stormwell. Bill also studied one year at the University of Nebraska toward his doctorate.
Bill enlisted in the National Guard when he was a senior in high school. In addition to monthly Guard drill, every summer until his retirement from the Guard in 1990, Bill attended a two-week camp to train soldiers on Howitzers and other weaponry. He rose through the ranks of the Army National Guard, serving in various capacities such as Selective Service Director and Inspector General. He retired as a one-star Brigadier General. Throughout his career, he also attended many special training schools, including Command and General Staff Training in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Bill was always quick to assure others that he could not have achieved all he did in life without Dwana by his side. Dwana received a Certificate of Honor from the Department of the Army, as well as the Molly Pitcher Award from the Nebraska National Guard for her service. After retirement, Bill and Dwana spent many days and weeks working on the Axtell family ranch near Anselmo and spending time with family and friends. They also enjoyed spending time at the Christy Inn near downtown Anselmo, which is where Bill’s family lived after they sold their farm. Bill’s daughters were his pride and joy. Both Pam and Penny live in the Denver area. Pam is a dental hygienist; Penny is an attorney. Terri is a physical therapist assistant in Scottsbluff. Pam and her husband, Michael Cortney, have a daughter, Christine, who is a veterinarian in Colorado. Penny and her husband Rob Myers have three children. Lauren is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida working as an account manager for a national recruiting firm. Twin sons, Austin and Christian, are full-time students at Colorado State University. Austin is studying business, and Christian criminal justice. Terri and her husband Jerry Yanke have two daughters. Emily is serving in the Navy, and is currently stationed in Italy on the ship U.S.S. Mount Whitney. Anna attended UNL at Kearney, and is now completing her education at Regional West Medical Center School of Radiologic Technology in Scottsbluff.
Bill is also survived by his siblings Tom, Lynn Dora, Marvin, and Richard, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Henry and Irene Christy, his younger brother Roger, and his infant brother Michiel Christy.
William Stephen Christy will be remembered as a great man, husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, uncle, brother, friend, commander, and teacher. He was loved and respected, not out of force or demand by him, but because of his kind and gentle manner. He loved to laugh and tell stories. He could strike up a conversation with anyone. For his family and friends, this has been the long good-bye, as Bill suffered from Alzheimer’s for the last eight years of his life, and was likely finally taken by bladder cancer. He will be missed, but we know he is no longer suffering and that he is in the arms of Jesus, singing “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.”
William S. “Bill” Christy, age 86 of Sidney, NE passed away Tuesday, April 9, 2019 in Bridgeport, NE. Memorial services will be held at 11:00 A.M. Saturday, April 20th in the First United Methodist Church in Sidney with Pastor Corey Jenkins officiating. Cremation has been held. Friends may stop at the Gehrig-Stitt Chapel on Friday from 1-7:00 P.M. to sign Bill’s register book and drop off condolences for the family. You may view Bill’s Book of Memories, leave condolences, photos and stories at www.gehrigstittchapel.com.
Gehrig-Stitt Chapel & Cremation Service, LLC is in charge of Bill’s care and funeral arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Dwana R. Christy. Dwana will assure all donations are used for the mowing and upkeep of the Grandview Cemetery located near Anselmo, Nebraska, where Bill’s ashes will be laid to rest on May 25th with military honors. Grandview is a small historical cemetery which sits atop a huge Sandhill. It overlooks Highway 2 and the Burlington Northern Railroad. There is a sign near the cemetery that says, “You are now entering the Sandhills.”