University of Michigan
News for Faculty and Staff

July 18, 2018

Obituary: A. Kent Christensen

December 4, 2015

Obituary: A. Kent Christensen

Topic: Obituaries

A. Kent Christensen, emeritus faculty member in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology as well as a former chair of the department, died Nov. 17 due to complications following a stroke in Provo, Utah. He was 87.

Born to A. Sherman and Lois Christensen, he was a beloved son, father, granddad, great-granddad, friend, and professor. Born Dec. 3, 1927, in Washington, D.C., he was raised in Provo. He joined the Marine Corps after high school. He also served a two-and-a-half-year LDS mission in France and Belgium beginning in 1949. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in zoology and received a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard in 1958. He continued postdoctoral studies while teaching and conducting research at Harvard, Stanford, Temple, and University of Michigan Schools of Medicine.

He loved science and sharing his scientific knowledge and curiosity and was a beloved teacher. Following his retirement in 2012, U-M honored him for achievements in teaching and research with the inauguration of the A. Kent Christensen Collegiate Professorship.

He loved traveling, learning languages, and reading literary and historical works in their original languages. Over the years he and his wife, Betsy, traveled many places including sabbaticals to Paris and Zurich.

He is survived by his loving wife Elizabeth "Betsy" Reynolds Sears Christensen, who retired with him from Ann Arbor to Orem, Utah, in 2012; sister Karen "Kris" Coffey; and brother Krege (Judy) Christensen; and his children: Anne (Jeff) Jacobson, Kathy (John) MacKay, David Christensen, Jennifer Turner-Brazel and John (Emily Ehrlich) Christensen. He was a proud granddad to 18 and great granddad to seven.

He will be remembered for his quick wit and sly smile, well-worn stories and familiar sayings, clip-on bowties, passion for research and discovery, deep intellect, unwavering moral code, and love for family and traditions. Condolences may be offered to the family online at