MEDICINE LODGE — The location of Thursday’s 2 p.m. memorial service for Robert “Bob” Christensen says something about the man.
The celebration of life for the attorney and sports enthusiast will be conducted at the Medicine Lodge High School track and field, an outdoor venue reflecting what he wanted.
Those who attend also will reveal something about Christensen. Some will ride bicycles to the field, and the number attending is expected to be sizable.
Christensen, 64, died in a hospital March 28 from injuries in a car-bicycle accident on U.S. 160 west of Medicine Lodge. Fellow bicyclist Thomas Foust, 56, South Carolina, also was struck from behind by the car and died at the scene. As of Wednesday, the Kansas Highway Patrol investigation was not completed.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Liz Edwards, Wichita. Christensen is the kind of person “we need in this world right now. To lose somebody like that is really hard," she said.
Nearly five years ago, Edwards was riding her bicycle when she was hit from behind by a pickup. It left the then-Barber County resident with a paralyzed lower left leg, and she was fitted with an exterior prosthesis.
Bob Christensen and his wife, Cindy Christensen, encouraged Edwards as she recovered. They accompanied her on bike rides as she improved.
“I never left town unless Bob or Cindy was with me,” she said of those rides outside Medicine Lodge. "They made me feel safe."
On one of the rides the trio took, she said, the topic of funerals came up. Edwards recalled Bob Christensen said he would want people to ride bikes to his service. And he would want “‘Hooter girls and Hooter hot wings,” there, too, said Edwards, laughing at the memory.
“Of course, I think he threw that in to get Cindy’s reaction,” Edwards said. “I loved the look on her face."
Edwards said their last ride together — in August or September 2017, before Edwards and her husband, Brett Edwards, moved to Wichita — was on the road where the accident occurred.
"I can't believe that he went through what I went through and he didn't make it," she said.
Bob Christensen was the type who could walk into a restaurant and quickly make friends with a stranger.
“It was almost like he had known these people forever,” Edwards said.
His faith in God and his outreach to others were central to Christensen, according to Pastor Paul Stephens, of the United Methodist Church in Medicine Lodge.
Christensen was “a great example and one who lived his faith," Stephens said. He was always encouraging people, ‘Don’t get stuck in the negative,’” Stephens said.
Christensen had a joyful outlook about death, Stephens said. A believer in God will go to heaven and Christensen would say, ”Where’s the downside in that?’”
Friends posting messages on Larrison Family Mortuaries’ website’s tribute wall for Christensen described the impact he and his faith had on them.
“I am a better person for having Bob in my life, and I thank God for letting me get to know him,” wrote Dana Denton.
Christensen was a member of Working Men of Christ, Emmaus, and Brothers in Blue. Stephens said the Brothers in Blue worship team will sing at the service.
Edwards said a group will meet at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Family Food Store, Sawyer, a place famous for its cinnamon rolls. They will ride bicycles to Medicine Lodge for the memorial service.
“I think that’s a wonderful tribute,” Stephens said.
Christensen and his wife have one son, three daughters, and five grandchildren. Christensen also is survived by his mother and three brothers.
Medicine Lodge High School will be in session Thursday, but anyone wishing to go to the service will be allowed, staff said.
“He was known by many and loved by many, and he loved many,” Stephens said.