CORONAVIRUS UTAH

Legendary Utah Veterans Advocate Dies In Home That Bears His Name

Jun 8, 2020, 6:05 PM | Updated: 9:15 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — One of the greatest advocates for Utah veterans died last week in the veterans home that bears his name. William E Christoffersen died due to complications with COVID-19 in the midst of an outbreak at the facility.

According to his friends, Christoffersen fought for his country in World War II, and kept fighting for veterans at home.

“He was truly remarkable. He was a humble man,” said Gary Harter, executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs. “He always said that he didn’t deserve this honor — to have the veterans home named after him.”

He served in the infantry in the Pacific in World War II.

For 35 years, Bill Christoffersen pushed state officials to build the first veterans home in Utah. It opened on the campus of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City in 1998, and was named in his honor in 2013. It’s also where he died early last week.

“A candle kind of flickered, just a little bit, because he’s been kind of the beacon for the American Legion,” said Terry Schow, former director of the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.

Schow said Bill Christoffersen served on the American Legion national board of directors for five decades, and was a member 75 years.

He said few have done more for Utah veterans.

“There was no significant piece of veterans legislation in Utah in the past 50 years that Bill was not involved with,” said Schow.

Christoffersen, who would have celebrated his 94th birthday on Saturday, had lived in the home for a year.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak was detected May 18th, 51 out of 72 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 25 staff.

The vast majority have been asymptomatic, according to Avalon Health Care, which manages the facility. Three residents have died, including Christoffersen.

“He saw a lot of action while he was in the army, like a lot of guys didn’t talk about it, but being a survivor, he wanted to give back,” said Byron Lewis, a former American Legion leader in Ogden.

And he never stopped giving.

“He was just a true patriot,” said Lewis. “He just took it seriously, and his goal was to make life better than what he had, and he did that.”

They said Bill Christoffersen embodied the Greatest Generation and its commitment to service and personal responsibility.

Born in Cache Valley, he set a goal to build a veterans home for long-term care. It took three decades, but the Salt Lake Veterans Home finally opened in 1998, and was renamed in recognition of Christoffersen in 2013.

Harter said he never stopped setting his sights on the next big project.

“One of the last times I talked with him, he said, ‘Gary, what can we do next?’ So he was truly an inspiration,” said Harter.

“When they would play taps, Bill would actually get emotional, and I would see him tear up. That’s how much that song meant to him,” said Schow.

Due to COVID-19 public health guidelines, a memorial service will be held at a later date.

Testing at the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake veterans home is ongoing. The facility has seen no new positive tests in the past week.

None of the state’s three other veterans homes have any cases of COVID-19.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

The Nurse Crisis and Patent Risk....
Debbie Worthen

Utah registered nurses are leaving the field, creating the ‘perfect storm’

"Without nurses, we can't have hospitals." Utah nurses are overworked and underpaid. Some say it's put people at risk.
6 days ago
Four-year-old Viola Fairfax-Panza Getting her COVID-19 vaccination, held by her mother Keke Fairfax...
Jed Boal

Salt Lake Co. distributes COVID vaccines for children 6-months and older

Salt Lake County begins COVID-19 vaccinations for children 6 months and older.
6 days ago
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Stephen Zenner/Getty Images)...
Jed Boal

Utah’s youngest kids should be able to get COVID-19 vaccine next week

Kids as young as 6 months old should be able to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the middle of next week. This is an eagerly awaited opportunity for many parents and an issue of concern for others.
10 days ago
Utah COVID testing site. Getty images...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

New mobile COVID-19 testing sites open in Utah

With the summer travel season underway and a steady stream of people still testing positive for COVID-19, Nomi Health opened several mobile testing sites across Utah.
19 days ago
The CDC is released updated mask guidance as researchers learn more about COVID-19. (KSL TV)...
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Charter school asks students not to mask to help ‘normalize’ not wearing masks at school

The American Preparatory Academy asks students not to wear a mask during their last three days of school to help with their 'academic and emotional growth.'
30 days ago
AURORA, CO - DECEMBER 15: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigat...
Jed Boal, KSL TV

Pfizer booster shot is now approved for children 5-11, here’s what a doctor advises

The CDC now recommends Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots for children ages five to 11. But, a leading pediatric epidemiologist suggests some parents may want to wait based on their summer plans.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Legendary Utah Veterans Advocate Dies In Home That Bears His Name