Joseph C. Christen, 55, director of organizational and leadership development at the University of Toledo and a former vice president of The Andersons, died Thursday in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center from complications of heart surgery three weeks ago.
Mr. Christen, who had a doctorate in counseling and psychology from UT, was developing strategic planning and training programs at UT, much as he had done at The Andersons, his daughter Julie Payeff said.
"He loved the university environment," his daughter said.
Mr. Christen was vice president of human resource development for The Andersons until 2001, when the position was eliminated in a company restructuring. He was hired by The Andersons in 1974 as a safety specialist. He was promoted to manager of human resource development in 1980 and to director of that area a decade later.
"He was a very innovative guy, and he was just solid gold," said Richard Anderson, chairman of the Maumee firm. "He cared, and he had the right attitude about life. He was there to serve. He was constantly thinking about the other person."
Mr. Christen grew up in Jerusalem Township and was a 1966 graduate of Clay High School. He was an Army veteran, serving stateside, and a seven-year reservist. While taking night classes at Bowling Green State University, he worked in a GM parts warehouse. The company awarded him a $10,000 savings bond for his suggestion that GM use a parcel service to ship small packages rather than a truck line.
He received a bachelor's of business administration degree and a master's of organization development doctorate from BGSU.
He was appointed by Gov. Bob Taft in 1999 to be a member of the Governor's Workforce Policy Board. Last year, county commissioners considered him to fill a vacancy on the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board. Ultimately, then-Dana Corp. executive William J. Carroll was appointed to the seat.
Mr. Christen taught at UT, BGSU, and Heidelberg College, among several institutions, and volunteered for church and community groups.
"All that he did in 55 years a lot of people do not do in a lifetime," his daughter said.
Surviving are his wife, Christine, whom he married Sept. 7, 1968; daughters, Julie Payeff and Andrea and Dana Christen; stepmother, Glenda Christen; sister, Anna Christen, and two grandsons.
The body will be in the Eggleston-Meinert-Pavley Mortuary, Coy Road, after 2 p.m. today, with a Scripture and reflection service at 7 tonight in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Ignatius Church, Oregon.
The family suggests tributes to the Dr. Joseph C. Christen Organizational & Leadership Development Education Fund at the UT Foundation.
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