If there was one thing Fred Christensen loved, it was a good show—whether he was performing in it, watching, or working behind the scenes. Ever since elementary school, Fred was involved in music and theater, playing saxophone in the school band and serving on the stage crew. As an adult, he was always part of at least one band,
playing bass guitar for the Spring City Rockers, The Schneebs, Four30Nine, Rip Snortin’ & the Prime Cuts, Mad Cowz, Billy Lethal & the Tailspin, and Shakedown.
Fred passed away suddenly in February from pancreatitis at age 61, his family knew there was no better way to celebrate his life than with a show.
In fact, Fred had already helped set it up.
“The Shakedown, his rock ‘n’ roll cover band, had a gig set up for May in a place he’d always wanted to play,” his daughter Caitlyn Christensen says. “Dad had finally gotten a gig booked at the Saloon on Calhoun with Bacon.”
After Fred’s death, Caitlyn’s brother suggested the show could still happen. “He said, ‘Let’s do some kind of memorial.’”
In addition to the show, the family decided to honor Fred’s lifelong commitment to music by creating a scholarship fund for college-bound Waukesha music students. The fund offers a lasting way to celebrate Fred’s gifts, his daughter says. “My mom wanted to do something. She doesn’t want him to be forgotten.”
Frederick C. Christensen Memorial Fund
will annually provide two $300 scholarships initially. One scholarship will benefit a student graduating from Waukesha South—Fred’s alma mater—and the other will support a graduate from Waukesha West, where all three of Fred’s children attended and pursued their own love of music
in choir and band. The South and West high school music faculty will choose the scholarship recipients each year.
It was easy to set up the fund at the Waukesha County Community Foundation, Caitlyn says
. “They tell you what information they need and they already have the nonprofit status in place. You don’t have to do this yourself.”
The family turned the long-awaited gig at Saloon on Calhoun into a fundraiser for the scholarship fund, but it wasn’t all business.
“It was a party,” his daughter says, including performances by some of the bands Fred had played in. “He would’ve loved that he was the center of attention all night. But he also would have just really loved it.”
If Fred could send a message to the students who will benefit from the scholarship named after him, Caitlyn suggests that “he would tell people to keep rocking. It was such a part of who he was, I think it would make him sad if people stopped.”
The Fred C. Christensen Memorial Fund is one way to keep young people rocking, just like Fred would have wanted.