The cheers coming from the stands as the Iola-Scandinavia take the field or court this year will be missing the voice of the T-Birds biggest fan – Bobby Christenson.
Christenson passed away on Sept. 24 at Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. He was 63.
Area residents shared their memories of him.
“I invited Bobby to our volleyball banquet when we went to state in 1999,” said Marie Skowen. “I recognized him as our No. 1 fan and it stuck. He was at every sporting event that there was.”
Growing up in the Marion area, Christenson also had a loyalty to that community as well.
“If Iola was playing against Marion, Bobby would sit on one side for the first half and move to the other for the second,” said Skowen.
From attending graduation parties to getting his yearbook signed by all the students, everyone who knew Christenson, shares a story about him, with a smile.
“If it wasn’t for Bobby, I would not have played basketball my senior year,” shared an Iola graduate. “I had a rough season my junior year and had decided not to play the next season. A bunch of us were sitting around signing yearbooks, when Bobby came up to us. He told me that I was his No. 1 player.”
She smiled and said, “He actually told me he was proud of me because I always played hard. I played my senior year because of what he said. I never told him how much that meant to me. I hope he knows.”
Many recalled the T-Bird puppet that he brought to games.
“He enjoyed entertaining us all,” added Skowen. “And he had fun doing it.”
“He made it to just about every softball game,” said I-S Softball Coach Tom Anderson. “It will be very strange this upcoming season, not to see him at our games keeping score with his clipboard, paper and pen. He would often ask me how many runs were scored between innings, just to make sure his score was correct.”
Anderson added, “He was also notorious for racing after any foul balls hit outside the playing field. But Bobby wasn’t much of a gambler with our girls running the bases, though. He would often yell at them to ‘get back’ so they wouldn’t get thrown out. I will miss his coaching from the stands.
“Before we got our new electronic scoreboard, Bobby would keep our score inning by inning on the old scoreboard we had at the field. He was in charge of the numbers that were placed on the scoreboard and everyone knew it.”
Marie Skowen said, “Once the electric scoreboard went in, it was Bobby’s job to hand out programs. He took great pride in any job he was given and enjoyed being a part of it all.”
Christenson’s birthday was in May. and he enjoyed celebrating it with the softball team.
“He would remind us often that his birthday was coming up,” recalled Anderson. “Bobby would bring cupcakes to the game nearest his birthday, and we would return the favor with cupcakes and a card signed by the team.”
There came a time when it was getting difficult for Christenson to attend all the games as traveling a long distance was hard for him.
That is when the community stepped up to the plate for him, with offers of rides to games so he could continue to cheer on the T-Birds.
Jim and Becky Maus, who had known Christenson for about 27 years, stepped up to the plate.
“Bobby would call and leave a message for us when he needed a ride to a game,” said Becky. “He would always say, ‘This is Robert Christenson, please call me.’ I still have one of those messages on the machine; I think I will keep it for awhile.”
Jim said, “We drove Bobby to a lot of games over the past three years. Yeah, Bobby would always bring his one CD of music to listen to on the way and it was all polkas. Most of the music was from Wisconsin bands, and we would listen to it once from beginning to end on the way to the game. After that it was my turn to pick the music.”
Both Jim and his wife Becky recalled taking of picture of their daughter Elle with Bobby during softball season.
“At graduation time, Bobby asked for a copy of it.” Jim said as he chuckled. “He wanted it to be an 8 x 10.”
Reflecting on some of their other favorite memories, Jim and Becky recalled a football game at St Mary’s in which their son Andrew was announced as Andrew Mouse.
“For many years after that, Bobby would say ‘Hi, Mouse Family. And he would laugh. He found such great joy in the simple things in life,” they said.
Gail Nelson said, “His spirit and smile were infectious. Iola was a great place for Bobby to be. The whole community looked out for him. The whole community is blessed to have had Bobby in their lives.”
Christenson’s funeral and burial were on Saturday, Sept. 29.