Mr. Christensen's death was unexpected, according to his family: He had been working out at the gym earlier that day, but collapsed after returning home.
Mr. Christensen earned his undergraduate degree in art and architecture from Dartmouth College, and a master's degree in political science from Stanford. Between those periods of study, he joined the U.S. Marines, serving as a lieutenant.
With his brother, Raymond, Mr. Christensen took over their father's home-building company, Herman Christensen and Sons, and expanded it into a general building contractor and real estate development business.
He was "passionate about education," his family said, and he served for some time on the Menlo Park City School District board. He also was a member of the Castilleja School Foundation Board for 10 years, and a supporter of Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto.
He was appointed to the Atherton Planning Commission in 2007, and his term was set to expire in 2015.
Mr. Christensen is survived by his wife of 53 years, Isobel; daughters Maren and Amy; sons Gavin and Andrew; his brother, Raymond; and seven grandchildren.
A celebration of Mr. Christensen's life will be held in January. The family prefers that memorial contributions in his name be made to Eastside College Prep, 1041 Myrtle St., East Palo Alto, CA 94303; San Mateo County Historical Association, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City, CA 94063; or Castilleja School, 1310 Bryant St., Palo Alto, CA 94301.
A longer obituary is posted at AlmanacNews.com.