Michael A. St. Clair Christie

Born: Thu., Jan. 22, 1931
Died: Thu., Jul. 8, 2021


Graveside Service

1:00 PM Wed., Jul. 21, 2021
Location: Newport Cemetery


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Michael “Mike” Christie, loving father and partner, expert aerospace engineer and world traveler, was born on January 22, 1931, in Orange, N.J., the second son of the late Peter Christie and Virginia (Landis) Christie.

Mike spent his early years in Maplewood, N.J., then moved with his parents to Canada, living in Montreal and then Toronto, where he graduated high school.

As a child, he spent many summers at his grandparents’ farm outside Newport, PA., with many uncles, aunts, cousins, and other members of the large extended Landis family. He continued making regular vacation visits to “The Farm” throughout his life.

He remembered his teen years in Canada fondly, as well as camping as a scout in the Canadian wilderness. He was interested in sports, playing basketball and football, but wasn’t particularly interested in academics.

In 1949 he enrolled in Juniata College in Pennsylvania near the farm, and there he met and fell in love with Katharine Plank, a music student. On June 10, 1951, they married, and a year later welcomed their first child, with five more following over the next decade.  He left college to work as an aircraft mechanic’s helper at nearby Olmsted Air Force Base.

With a newfound love of airplanes and seeking a job on the cutting edge, he moved his growing family across the country to Edwards Air Force Base in California, home of “The Right Stuff.” He became an expert in jet engine fuel controls, helping test scores of military jets in the 1950s. But Mike wanted to design, not test someone else’s product, so he moved the family back to Connecticut in 1958 so could earn an engineering degree. The family returned to Southern California in 1962, where over the next 42 years he worked on innumerable U.S. and foreign air force projects, serving as project engineer on fuel control and emergency power systems.

He found his dream job when he was hired by Garrett AiResearch (later Honeywell).  Mike moved to the Los Angeles area to work for Honeywell.  He and Kathy divorced after the children were grown.  His career flourished during the next several decades, and he eventually retired in 2004 at the age of 74.  His love and expertise for design and program management was unwavering.

Mike was very close with his mother, Virginia. After she retired from Smith College, she moved to a home near the Farm, where she lived until her death in 1999. As Virginia began declining in the early 1990s, Mike was a devoted son, working tirelessly from across the continent to manage around-the-clock nursing care so Ginny could remain in her own home. 

In the early 1980s, Mike met Sally Phillips, who became his long-term life partner. Her three sons welcomed him into their family and became part of Mike’s extended family as well. 

Mike had a life-long wanderlust, starting at 17 when he hitchhiked across the U.S. He later developed a passion for world travel, often coupled with business trips. Mike organized dozens of lengthy overseas trips with Sally, always first class. 

Sally died in 2018 after an extended illness.  Her absence affected Mike every day, and he never stopped talking about how much he missed her, and the experiences they shared.

Mike died at age 90 on Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Lancaster, CA., in the supportive care of his children, after a few years of decline and increasing dementia. He is predeceased by the mother of his children, Kathy, and his grandson Christopher Alan Hance and his older brother Pete- who was a renowned aviation structural engineer at The Boeing Co in Seattle.  He is survived by his six children, 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, who also regularly travelled long distances to vacation with him at The Farm.

  David, Patty, Billy, Bobby, Pammy and Mikie Christie

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Steve and Kim Phillips
   Posted Wed July 21, 2021
For David, Patty, Billy, Bobby, Pammy and Mikie, we share in the loss that you feel but we also share in the blessing that you had and still have in your dad. Kim and I are so sorry that we couldn’t be with all of you today as you celebrate a wonderful life full of accomplishments and memories, but Kim is preparing to leave tomorrow to see her parents who are struggling through their own health issues. As you know your dad was a planner and his travel itineraries were always well planned and detailed. Perhaps, he planned this final trip as you were all preparing to come back to the farm. He loved that place and he loved spending time with you and was so very proud of all of you!
I always enjoy seeing how God works in our lives. In the late 70s, my mom’s life was turned upside down when her marriage ended in divorce. I know it wasn’t something she wanted as her kids were finishing school and leaving homes to start their own lives. But during those hard times, she moved from Pennsylvania to California to be near her parents and over the course of a few years, she met your dad. Who knew they would be dating and lifelong partners for nearly 40 years? I believe the relationship they had made each of them better and more complete. They had similar desires for travel, dining, and entertainment. As a child, I remember my mom sharing her desire for travel to Hawaii and other places around the globe. She shared that passion with Mike and I’m not sure she would have ever lived her dream to see the world if she hadn’t met your dad. And they saw a lot of local California and the world over the years, and they shared a very special life together. What a blessing!
But Mike was more than a life-long partner for mom, he was a life-time family friend and surrogate grandfather for our kids. He made every graduation and major milestone in Jake and Lenise’s lives, and we shared many visits, conversations and made wonderful memories over the years. Even after Mom’s passing, it was always a joy to give him a call or get a call from him. It seemed to make everything seem normal. Even though, we will all pass away in our time, it is sad when someone you love passes away even when you know they lived a good long life. But we have their memories burned into our hearts and into our minds and we have the joy of remembering the things they shared with us and taught us. We have that with my mom and with Mike and give thanks to God that he gave them a life together and allowed all of us to share in their story. Love, Steve, Kim, Jake and Lenise

Chuck Truitt
   Posted Tue July 27, 2021
I also was a project engineer in aircraft systems and later became Program Manger for the F16 which had an emergency power system. If I recall Mike was a good support engineer in the final development of the F16 power system. Later he was supportive in helping develop a power system for the indigenous fighter for Taiwan, which I was called on to visit and resolve final development issues. AiResearch (Honeywell) and all who new Mike will not only remember him but honor him for his contribution to military aircraft development.

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