Gus Carstensen 1921 - 2022

Gus Carstensen passed away peacefully August 16, 2022, at the age of 101. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings; his wife, Cathy; and his sons, Brian and David. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Carol and Jon Christiansen; his granddaughters, Alea and Miranda Christiansen and Rachel Carstensen; and his niece, Candy Carstensen.

His parents emigrated as newlyweds from Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. They lived in a variety of towns in Oregon, working on farms, woolen mills and lumber camps.

Gus was born February 14, 1921, in Klamath Falls, the exact date that the Gasoline Alley character Skeezix, one of Gus’ favorites, was found on a doorstep. During the Depression, the young family, which by then included three sons and a daughter, moved to the small sawmill town of Klickitat in Washington. Gus finished elementary school there and then attended Concordia Academy, a boarding school in Portland.

When World War II broke out, Gus joined the Navy. He initially served as a weather observer on San Clemente Island near San Diego. Later, he deployed nets to trap enemy submarines. By the end of the war, he was a signalman on a gate vessel at Pearl Harbor.

After the war, Gus worked for the Railway Mail Service and then went back to school to get his teaching degree. He taught various grades in Tillamook and Scappoose. In 1954, he met Cathy, his future wife, at a Halloween dance. They were married in August of 1955 and made their home in Portland, where they both taught.

Gus acquired a master’s degree in Elementary Education in 1961. The next year, he took a hiatus from teaching to study speech pathology at Portland State University. During that time, he drove a cab, which he later said was a great way to learn about people.

In 1964, Gus and his family moved to McMinnville, Oregon, where he lived the rest of his life. He worked as a speech pathologist with the McMinnville School District for 19 years, retiring in 1983. He is remembered fondly to this day by many of his former students.

He and Cathy loved attending lectures, museums, plays and art exhibits. They were also avid adventurers and traveled to Europe, Australia, China, Japan and the Pacific Islands, and throughout North America.

Gus was an active member of the Presbyterian Church. He was an enthusiastic spiritual seeker, interested in a broad range of philosophical and religious ideas. He was a passionate Democrat, an anti-war activist who demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and a lifelong advocate for children and education.

Gus’ family, friends and students appreciated his kindness, enthusiasm and creative perspectives, as well as his unfailing optimism and sense of humor. He was a loving, fun and engaged father and grandfather.

There will a celebration of life for Gus at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, October 8, 2022, at the McMinnville Presbyterian Church.


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