2014-09-10 / News

Raymond Christensen, Former County Board Chair, Dies

Robert A. Cairns

DELHI — Members of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors and the Davenport community are mourning the death of former board chairman Ray Christensen, who died unexpectedly at his Davenport Center home on Tuesday at the age of 76. Christensen served as town of Davenport supervisor from 1984 to 1998 and as chairman of the county board from 1994 to 1998 before leaving to accept an appointment by New York Governor George Pataki to a position in the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

James Eisel, the current board chairman and Harpersfield supervisor, said Christensen “was very proud to be a representative from the town of Davenport.”

Eisel recalled their time together on the board. “We worked well together. I enjoyed him,” he said. “He understood the politics of the day.” Eisel said that Christensen loved his farm and family and “was just an all-around great guy who always wanted to do the best for Delaware County.”

Eisel said flags at county buildings will be lowered to half-staff on Friday, Sept. 12 to honor Christensen.

Dennis Valente, the current town supervisor in Davenport, said Christensen leaves a legacy. “He certainly had a tremendous impact on this town,” Valente said. “He was refreshingly direct in a calm and courteous way. I always enjoyed working with him, even when I disagreed with him.”

Valente said Christensen was instrumental in opposing a plan, put forth by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960s, to build a flood control dam on the Charlotte Creek at Pindars Corners and flood much of the Charlotte Valley in order to reduce flooding from the Susquehanna River at Binghamton. He compared that situation to present-day events, as the proposed Constitution Pipeline would cross Davenport, transporting natural gas from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County. “He successfully fought that (the dam),” Valente said. “I hope I do as well as he did, facing the challenges.”

Valente said he served with Christensen on the Delaware County Farmland Protection Board, where Christensen’s experience and contacts in state government came in handy. “He was very well respected in Albany. He’d get inside information so we’d know what was coming down. We’ll miss that.”

Despite the fact that Christensen was a Republican and Valente is a Democrat, Valente said they had much in common. “He was aware that we don’t have a lot of money in this town. I share that sentiment,” he said.

Valente summed up, saying, “It’s the end of an era. His mark is felt here.”

In recent years, Christensen served as an agricultural advisor to U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson. Gibson released a statement on Wednesday.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of my friend Ray Christensen. Ray worked incredibly hard to build a successful business, support his family, and safeguard the rural landscape. He also shared generously of his time and talents to help his neighbors, advocate for the farm community, and bring people together. His friendship and guidance have been invaluable to me. May God bless and comfort the Christensen family as they mourn Ray’s death and celebrate his life.”

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