LOCAL NEWS

Family Shares Legacy of Utah Veteran Advocate Who Died Of COVID-19

May 31, 2021, 9:31 PM | Updated: 11:05 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — One year ago, as the pandemic intensified, COVID-19 claimed the life of one of Utah’s greatest advocates for military veterans. In an ironic twist, William E. Christoffersen died in the Salt Lake Veterans Nursing Home named in his honor.

Friends and family of Christofferson said he fought for his county in World War II, and when he came home, he fought even harder for his fellow veterans. 

“Bill dedicated 70+ years of his life to veterans,” said his widow, Elaine Christofferson. “Full steam ahead, everything he did.”

Bill Christofferson was drafted two weeks after graduating from South Cache High School in Hyrum, Utah.

As an army platoon leader in the Pacific, Christofferson saw action against enemy forces in Leyte, Luzan and Manila.

Death and destruction surrounded him, but Christofferson was never hurt during his two-and-a-half years of combat.

“He would never talk about it because he said it was indescribable, too horrible. He said I don’t want to relive that again,” said Elaine.

When he came home alive and others who served next to him did not, she said he came to a realization.

“He said he realized that what had happened was God went everywhere with him,” she said.

Christoffersen was motivated to serve.

“He dedicated his life to veterans,” said Elaine.

Christoffersen was elected to the National Executive Committee of the America Legion where he served more than 50 years, the longest serving executive in the history Of the American Legion.

He fought for veterans benefits. He worked to create Utah’s only Veterans Cemetery and Memorial Park in Bluffdale. He also helped organize programs to assist homeless veterans.

“There is not a single veterans project in the state over the past 50 years that Bill was not a part of,” said Terry Schow, a former director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs and a member of the National Executive Committee of the American Legion. “He was a legend in his own time — ferocious, dedicated, committed. I consider him to be one of my dearest friends and certainly a mentor because he helped show me the way.”

Present day photo of Elaine Christoffersen and Terry Schow.

Christoffersen traveled back and forth to Washington, D.C. to make things happen for veterans.

“He knew senators, congressman, governors, presidents,” said Elaine.

He forged relationships with those who could help his cause.

“He said, you can’t accomplish anything without a team,” she said. “He was even that way in our home.”

For several decades, Christoffersen pushed Utah to build its first veterans home.

The home eventually opened on the campus of the Salt Lake VA in 1998 and was named in his honor in 2013.

When he came back two years ago as a resident, he thought it was time for the state to build another home in Salt Lake County, or expand the current one. He was hoping to create a new nursing home in Salt Lake with individual rooms, which would be safer for residents in future pandemics.

“This is the only home in the state where the veterans share a room,” said Schow. “They had a high COVID rate.”

“Bill was tireless,” said Elaine.

She said he accomplished so much while always deflecting credit.

“He said, long after I’m gone, my name will be on a building. How cool is that?” Elaine said with a laugh.

Bill Christoffersen was 93.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

The 35th Annual Senior Games take place in St. George through October 15....
Ayanna Likens

11,000 register for Senior Games in St. George

Seniors from all over the world have traveled to Southern Utah to play in the 35thannual Huntsman Senior Games.
15 hours ago
(FILE) Power lines in South Jordan....
Eliza Pace

Power outage impacts over 9,000 in Orem

Many Orem residents were without power Thursday afternoon.
15 hours ago
(GoFundMe)...
Tamara Vaifanua

Mother of 5-year-old boy hit by truck says she has no bad feelings for driver

The mother of a 5-year-old boy hit by a truck spoke with KSL TV about the crash. 
15 hours ago
FILE: Bountiful Police (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)...
Eliza Pace

13-year-old hit by car in crosswalk

A 13-year-old boy was hit by a car as he entered a crosswalk near 500 E. 2600 South in Bountiful around 3 p.m. Wednesday.
15 hours ago
FILE: Kathy Dalton takes time to teach her kids about nature while they explore the outdoors. (Sour...
Ashley Moser

Nature can help your little ones learn how to count

Preschool directors for the Stokes Nature Center say one of the best and easiest ways to teach your little ones how to count is by going on a walk.
15 hours ago
...
Ladd Egan

‘The Dignity Index’ launches pilot program in Utah to score messaging from candidates

A new project in Utah is trying to encourage political candidates to use more dignity and get rid of contempt by scoring the words and messaging they use.
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
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: Ask these questions 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.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Family Shares Legacy of Utah Veteran Advocate Who Died Of COVID-19