Legendary Utah Veterans Advocate Dies In Home That Bears His Name

Jun 8, 2020, 6:05 PM | Updated: Nov 2, 2022, 6:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — 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

FILE PHOTO (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)...
Josh Ellis

Utah doctor, others charged with running COVID vaccine scheme, issuing fake records and giving fake shots

A Utah plastic surgeon, his medical corporation and three others have been charged after prosecutors say they issued fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards and injected minors with saline shots.
9 days ago
FILE: People line up in their cars as members of the Utah National Guard give COVID-19 swab tests a...
Eliza Pace

Gov. Cox, along with 24 other governors, call on President Biden to end Federal Public Health Emergency

Gov. Spencer Cox signed a letter with 24 other governors calling on President Joe Biden to end the federal public health emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 month ago
flu shot tripledemic...
Matt Rascon

KSL+: The rise of respiratory viruses and COVID’s impact

It’s not even winter yet, and the CDC is warning that the country is experiencing a resurgence of respiratory viruses, which are taking a toll on hospitals and children.
2 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

US clears updated COVID boosters for kids as young as 5

The U.S. on Wednesday authorized updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 5, seeking to expand protection ahead of an expected winter wave.
4 months ago
Alex Cabrero and Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Sandy woman shares frustration of ongoing battle with COVID-19

As life starts to return to normal from the pandemic, for millions of Americans, it still causes a daily struggle. That's the case for one Sandy woman, who shared her story Tuesday.
4 months ago
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Jed Boal

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Legendary Utah Veterans Advocate Dies In Home That Bears His Name