David Christensen, founder of Christensen Shipyards in the US, has passed away at 87

David Christensen, founder of Christensen Shipyards in the US, passed away on Monday from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 87.

After a successful career as a real estate developer and homebuilder, Christensen retired at age 50 and gifted himself with a 95ft custom yacht. After its maiden voyage to Mexico, he decided he could build a better yacht, and Christensen Shipyards was born.

Born June 19, 1931, on the family farm in Flaxton, North Dakota, he moved to Vancouver, Washington with his mother and two siblings following his father’s death in 1943.

Christensen struggled with academics, but excelled at work, holding five newspaper delivery routes as a youngster and a variety of jobs through high school, according to his family, as reported in The Columbian. His first job after high school was working on the Grand Coulee Dam. By age 23, he was building houses.

Fearing retirement might be boring led Christensen to start his shipyard in 1983. The yachts – known for their composite hulls – are all lavish deep-water, ocean-going vessels that attracted the likes of golfer Tiger Woods and other celebrities who could afford a multimillion-dollar custom built yacht.

In 2006, the company opened a second, larger facility on Tellico Lake in Tennessee, which has capacity for yachts up to 225ft.

Christensen is survived by his wife, Mary; three daughters; three stepsons; seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Services are pending.