Estelle O'Connell Christensen of Durham, NC, formerly of Montross, passed away on Saturday, September 26, 2020, at the age of 94. Estelle was born and raised in Highland Springs, VA. As a young woman she attended Madison College and travelled as a youth caravaner for the Methodist Church before meeting a handsome young soldier, Carl Christensen, and marrying him at the age of 19.
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In 1955, Estelle and Carl moved to Montross, where Carl became pharmacist and part-owner of People’s Drug Store. Estelle enthusiastically embraced her new community and soon was filling many roles in addition to raising their three children. In 1956, she and a friend started the first kindergarten in Westmoreland County. Eventually that kindergarten became the foundation of Woodland Academy, which she and others established in 1969. There she continued to teach and nurture generations of young children. After she retired, she began a tutoring service to help students who were struggling in school.
Girl Scouting was another of Estelle’s passions. She and her friend, Frances Hinson Brune, brought Girl Scouts to Westmoreland County in the 1950’s. She served as a local and district Girl Scout leader and was a support and inspiration for the many young women whose lives she touched. In the late 1960”s she worked with her Senior Girl Scout troop to open the Coffee House in Montross as a safe place for teenagers to gather. In addition, she was an active member of her church, Andrew Chapel UMC, where she contributed in many ways, including chairing the Evangelism Committee and participating in a charitable knitting group.
Despite her busy life, Estelle decided to fulfill a lifelong dream, and she returned to college to obtain her degree. She travelled back and forth at night to VCU in Richmond for several years, finally receiving that treasured diploma in 1979.
In her spare time, Estelle was an avid reader, an excellent seamstress and knitter, and a good friend to many, both young and old. Her phone never stopped ringing!
Estelle Christensen was preceded in death by her parents, James Henry and Lorene Gertrude O’Connell. She is survived by daughters Carol Christensen Ergenbright of Maryville, TN and husband Bob; Ann Marie Christensen of Durham, NC and husband Allen Duffer; son Erik Christensen of Charlotte, NC; four grandchildren, Kirsten Craft and husband Matt, Rob Ergenbright and wife April, Ross Duffer and wife Leigh Janiak, and Matt Duffer; and six great-grandchildren, Reed Craft, Raleigh Craft, Conner Ergenbright, Owen Ergenbright, Kaden Woodard, and Nathan Woodard.
A private family graveside service will be held on Sunday, October 4, 2020, at Andrew Chapel UMC, with Rev. Kevin Elmore officiating. A Celebration of Life is planned for the spring. Memorial contributions may be made to Andrew Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery Fund, PO Box 187, Montross, VA 22520. Online condolences may be shared at www.welchfuneralhomeva.com.