Mary Elaine (McKillip, Friedl) Christiansen
Mary Elaine (McKillip, Friedl) Christiansen died peacefully at home in Lake Oswego, Oregon on February 25, 2022, just before her 88th birthday. Mary will be remembered for her fountain of vivacious energy. She believed in adventure. She visited the Galapagos Islands, a childhood dream. She was an avid hiker, biker, swimmer, devoted to yoga and kayaking. She traveled widely seeing Paris, Italy, Spain, Australia, Ecuador, Santa Fe, New England, Seattle and Yosemite. Retiring to Mary's Woods in Oregon at 85, she was as active as possible and grateful to be in such a beautiful place.
Her partner, Robert Gordon, her sons Joe and Andy, her daughters Lisa and Louise and grandson Lawrence were with her. In her thoughts were her family and well-loved friends who shared many adventures. Mary lived a long healthy life, living with dignity as she designed for end of life.
Daughter of Veronica and Laurence McKillip, born in Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1934, she grew up with 6 siblings. Losing her brother and father too early set her on a lifelong path of health. Mary had an amazing mind. She worked hard, saving for one year of college. She married Thomas Friedl in 1952, had six children, Susan, Mary Louise, Lisa, Joseph, Matthew and Andy. In 1970 she married Karl Christiansen. She has three grandchildren, Marion (Cris), Bijan and Lawrence Friedl. In 2008 she met her partner, Robert Gordon.
Mary returned to college for psychology in her 30's and 40's. At 50 she met Judith Aston and trained in movement analysis and ergonomic design. Her new work encompassed all her deep interests. In Mill Valley, CA she began her 35-year career designing pathways out of pain, towards better health and function. She worked with many artists and musicians. She designed Seiji Ozawa Hall concert chairs, working with architect William Rawn at Tanglewood, MA, also at Green Music Center, CA. Her business became Seating Dynamics, focusing on environments for ease.
Loving her work, she created many close and loving relationships. Mary gave and received so much generosity in her life. An avid thinker who read widely, she loved sharing ideas. Her final book, The Root of Thought lit her up with joy and enthusiasm.