KANAB— Leon Whitney Christensen, 82, died May 11, 2023, at his home in Kanab. He was born Dec. 18, 1940, in Salina to Whitney E. and Mary Jensen Christensen. He was raised in Redmond and graduated from North Sevier High School in 1959. When he was a junior in high school, Russians launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, and the race for space was on. He decided he wanted to be a part of that, so he took all the math and science classes North Sevier had to offer.

He then attended the College of Southern Utah (now Southern Utah University) in Cedar City where he met Nayna Judd, the love of his life. They were married June 16, 1962, in the St. George temple. Four children were born to them. He graduated from Utah State University with a BS (1964) and MS (1965) degrees in mechanical engineering. He worked part time in the Cache County Recorder’s Office, making maps and plats while attending college. He attended the University of New Mexico on an instructorship, where he taught classes in engineering. During his career as an Aerospace Engineer, he worked for Sandia Laboratory in New Mexico, Lawrence Livermore Labs in California, and Hercules Incorporated (Alliant Techsystems) in Magna.

Leon grew up with guns and hunting but switched his hobby to cameras later on and became a wildlife photographer. He took many vacations to photograph wildlife in Yellowstone National Park, Denali and Katmai National Parks in Alaska, and the Wildlife Parks in East Africa.

Leon and Nayna moved to Kanab after his retirement from Alliant Techsystems to help care for Nayna’s aging parents. He then worked for Garkane Energy as a drafting and mapping tech into his 80s.

Leon had learned to play the guitar at about the age of 15 and loved entertaining people. He and Nayna were members of the Baker Bunch Band in Kanab for more than 20 years, where they played at the rest homes, senior centers, and the Western Legends Roundup. Leon could play and sing most any song the people requested. If he didn’t know the song, he would go home and learn it, and have it ready for the band to play next time. He taught guitar class at Mohave Community College for several years. He and Nayna also loved to go on ATV trips around Southern Utah with a group of good friends.

Leon is survived by his wife, Nayna; their children, Mary Lyn (Sheri), Bryant (Tammy), and Mark (Bryce); seven grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren; and brothers, Boyd (Gladys) and Paul (Pauline). What a great family. He loved them all, unconditionally.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a daughter, Brenda.

There will be a viewing at Mosdell Mortuary in Kanab Thursday, May 18, from 7 to 8 p.m., with a funeral service Saturday, May 20, at 10 a.m. at Valley View Mortuary and Cemetery, 4335 West 4100 South in West Valley City. Burial will be in the cemetery there.

Services were arranged with Mosdell Mortuary of Kanab, and Valley View Mortuary of West Valley City.