When Bertha Mae Russell was born on September 13, 1913, in Elwood, Utah, her father, Curtis, was 25 and her mother, Ella, was 18. She married Gilbert Marinus Christensen on September 20, 1929, in Idaho, Idaho. They had eight children in 19 years, the fourth was Olive. This is a photo of her with her mother, stepfather, and siblings. Bertha is on the far top right. Below is a photo of Bertha with her husband Gilbert Christensen. They met at a dance where he was in the band playing a saxophone in Burley Idaho just a few miles from Rupert where they were both from. When Gilbert saw her he put down his sax in mid-song and rushed over to her to ask her to dance. They were married in the Idaho Falls Temple. They lived in a number of places including Idaho, California, Nevada and Oregon. Bertha died on July 1, 1983, in Overton, Nevada, at the age of 69, and was buried in Rupert, Idaho.
"When I was a young girl living in Laie, Oahu, Hawaii my mother Olive was taking an art course at the Church College (BYU Hawaii). They were challenged to do a clay project and my mother decided to make ceramic roses. She sat me and my sisters beside her and showed us how to create the center of the rose and then to make the wrapping petals one at time and attach them carefully around the center. Each petal was put on so as not to squish the shape. Each petal getting larger and overlapping the previous one. Through the years I have repeated this project. I taught my own daughters this. Later when I attended Brigham Young University in Utah I was required to take a sculpture course myself to complete my BA degree in Visual Art and like my mother elected to create a rose. It was a supersized version. Today I have an art school with 400+students and for mothers day this year just a few weeks before my mothers passing my wonderful teachers at the ART house and I guided the students through this project so they could create a beautiful rose for their mothers. The results were magnificent as the photo of just a few shows. The mothers were thrilled. I sent a copy of this photo and a hand drawn rose in a card telling her about her project. How it touched so many lives and would continue to do so, a legacy. The letter arrived a day later then her passing. Although it saddened my heart that she never got to see how her legacy lives on. I am so grateful for the caring, sharing woman that she was to take the time to show me art projects such as this. It was her strength as a developer that made me feel capable of going to college and getting my degree in art and owning an art school. "
Olive had purchased a set of World Book Encyclopedias when her children were young. With the set came a cyclo-teacher. By inserting a clean round piece of paper in on top of the instruction sheet into the cyclo teaching it was ready. Viewing through a open slot would be the question. sliding the handle would reveal the next question and the answer to the previous question. She would sit down with her childern and go over the questions. One of the favorites was the flower names. They would practice until all the flowers memorized.
Olive always had a very tender and loving heart. She was known to pick up those that would be down on their luck on the side of the road holding up a sign "will work for food" and have them do some chores at her own home and feed them. She would also give them a place to sleep. She followed the admonision of King Benjamen in the Book of Mormon another testament of Jesus Christ
Mosiah 4: 16 And also, ye yourselves willasuccorthose that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that thebbeggarputteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt asay: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not allabeggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?"
Many through the years have enjoyed the love and comfort of her giving heart. She also was a great hugger who would reach out to others and pay generous compliments and lift them. What little money or things she had in her life she generously shared with others.
She spent the last weeks of her life helping her niece and nephew in need. Then she followed that by helping her granddaughter who in turn made her last days more joyful and pleasant.