A California elementary school principal committed suicide on Saturday at Disneyland by jumping off a parking structure, leaving a note blaming his wife after he was arrested, asserting his life was over because he was about to be fired following child endangerment charges.
(Video Credit: FOX 11 Los Angeles)
Chris Christensen, 51, killed himself just days before he was due in court according to the Daily Mail. He took his own life at approximately 9 pm on Saturday during the Christmas lighting ceremony at the Anaheim theme park. That ceremony was reportedly attended by Disney’s new CEO, Bob Iger.
His wife Marlena called the police on him during a fight they had in front of her two young daughters, Katelynn and Kara.
In his suicide note left on Facebook Christensen claimed he was taking his life because he was afraid of losing his job. He had already been suspended as principal of Newland Elementary School when the child endangerment charges were filed.
He was the son of a legendary Disney music director and a devoted musician himself. Christensen’s father Jim, who died in 2020 at 84, was a music director for Disneyland and Walt Disney World since the 1960s. He is warmly remembered as “a musical legend in the universe of Walt Disney World.”
Chris posted a picture of his father at a family gathering in November 2019, five months before he died.
Christensen senior met his wife Karen at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He taught music in Madison and New York. He was the director of the UW Marching Band and was a member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, where he played the trombone. Christensen also directed the UW Marching Band at the 1963 and 1968 Rose Bowl. Disney’s head hired him before the 1971 opening of Disney World in Florida.
Jim Christenson has 250 published works and composed music for the Main Street Electrical Parade and numerous other Disney attractions. Every summer for ten years the musical legend conducted an All-American College Orchestra at Disney World. He also created arrangements for the “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks, Theme Park Insider reported.
Chris owned Seaside Strings in Huntington Beach, which is a band that provides string ensembles for weddings and other events. He performed cello.
He blamed his wife in his note for “letting her anger get the best of her” and then calling the police and landing him in jail. Chris was then put on administrative leave from his job.
Christensen wrote that he would use his wife’s “anger” to show his friends how rage can “really have extremely damaging effects on a person’s life.”
“I hate when people leave this Earth with so many unanswered questions. So, I hope this provides some insight and perspective,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately, two weeks ago she and I got into a heated argument at home in front of the girls. Tempers were flared and strong words were exchanged between us,” Chris continued. “However, never in this exchange did I hit, slap, or hurt Marlena in any manner. Nor did I ever touch the girls (I never have and never will). I love the girls like my own and they know that, as does everyone else who truly knows me.”
“I am on the brink of losing my job, as I am out on administrative leave until my case is ‘resolved.’ So, here I am… writing my final FB post to all of you. I need you all to know that a gentle, kind, loving and sincerely good man has been destroyed by one unfortunate night. It really is unfortunate! This is NOT me! This is NOT something that I ever thought would happen to me,” he continued.
Christensen went on to thank his coworkers, friends, and families for his time with the district and told them he loved what he did for 20-plus years.
“I have truly loved educating and leading thousands of students and families as a principal in FVSD for the past 21+ years,” he said. “I have made so many wonderful connections with families over the years and those who know me closely know how much I cared for my students, staff and families.”
He evidently spent the day before his suicide reaching out to those he cared about.
“This is not an ideal way to go out, but at least I get a chance to say some final words to those who I love and adore. Please, please, please be kind to one another! Treat each other with kindness and grace. There is too much anger in the world and people need to start treating each other better. What I’ve shared with you above is a prime example of how ‘anger’ can really have long-lasting and extremely damaging effects on a person’s life,” he stated.
A brutal, sudden end to Southern California elementary school principal and musician Chris Christensen's life. He was part of Disney's All-American College Orchestra in 1992, performing all summer at Epcot Center, and did a reunion concert this summer. https://t.co/cT2QKOXv5x pic.twitter.com/OtgEA4nZik
— Richard Horgan (@hollywoodspin) December 4, 2022
He wanted his friends to “Please remember me for all the good I brought to the world of education.”
The Fountain Valley School District sent a statement to families on his passing, “Mr. Christensen has been a respected leader in FVSD for over 20 years. His contributions and connections to this community are immeasurable. He was a father, husband, brother, and friend to so many. His passing leaves us devastated and heartbroken.”
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