Lew Christensen dies on Christmas Eve



Lew Christensen and his late wife, Sandi
  • Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs
  • Lew Christensen and his late wife, Sandi

Famed local developer Lew Christensen passed away on Christmas Eve morning after a long illness. He was 75.

Christensen is best known for his work with business partner John Venezia. The pair developed the Peregrine Master Planned Community and several commercial properties, but their signature work was Briargate. The two began the development project in the 1970s. Venezia died in 1992, and Christensen saw the project through until 1995.

Christensen was a two-time chairman of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation, which he helped establish in the 1970s, and a one-time chairman of the board of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

The EDC sent the following message regarding Christensen's passing:

EDC has lost a very dear friend and longtime leader. Lew Christensen passed away early on the morning of Christmas Eve.

Lew served twice as Chairman of EDC and also served as a Chairman of the Chamber board. He played a key role in establishing EDC in 1971 and again played a key leadership role in the early 90's. He was named the Chamber's Business Citizen of the Year in 1993.

Lew was a partner with John Venezia in the development of the master planned community now known as Briargate.

He leaves behind many friends in the Colorado Springs business community who will remember him for a life of significant accomplishments and contributions to our community. He was "one of the best".

I will forward information on a service for Lew as soon as I receive it.


Julie Boswell
Executive Vice President
Development and Communications
Colorado Springs Regional
Economic Development Corporation

C. Lewis "Lew" Christensen departed to be with our Lord on December 24, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Lew was born in Laramie, Wyoming, on June 3, 1936, to his parents Raymond H. Christensen and Elizabeth Cady Christensen. He attended elementary school in Laramie until the age of ten when his family moved to Casper, Wyoming. While attending Natrona County High School (Casper), Lew lettered in football and swimming, played the clarinet in the band, was a photographer for the school newspaper, and served as student body vice-president during his senior year, graduating in 1954.

Lew was a fourth generation graduate of the University of Wyoming, receiving his BS degree in Engineering in 1958. His great-grandmother, Emma Howell Knight, was the first dean of women at the university. His great-grandfather, Wilbur C. Knight, was a professor of geology and curator of the geology museum at the university and also served as state geologist. During Lew’s university years, he served as president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity ; was active in student politics, Air Force ROTC and Arnold Air Society; was a photographer for the student newspaper and annual; and was a free-lance photographer for the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and other newspapers.

After graduating from college, Lew was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served for three years at Malmstrom AFB, Great Falls, Montana. While serving in Montana, he met and married the love of his life, Sandra Stadheim. Sandi and Lew were a very special couple and a great example of what a solid marriage should be. They met and were engaged nine days later, and were married for forty two years until Sandi passed away in 2002. They had two children, Kim Wyse and Brett Christensen, both of Colorado Springs; and four grandchildren, Kylie Wyse, Keaton Wyse, Jacob Christensen, and Nicole Christensen, all of Colorado Springs.

After finishing his military service, Lew went to work for Mountain States Telephone Company in 1962. For the next several years he worked for various AT&T companies in Helena, Montana; Phoenix, Arizona; Chicago, Illinois; and New York City, New York, before being transferred to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1970. In 1973, when he was to be transferred again, he resigned from the telephone company and entered the real estate business in Colorado Springs. In 1977, he was introduced to John Venezia who was in the process of beginning the Briargate Master Planned Community in Colorado Springs. John and Lew were partners in the development of the Briargate Community until John’s death in 1992. Lew continued to operate the Briargate project until it was sold to the Gary & Dusty Loo Family in 1995. John and Lew had also been partners in the development of the Peregrine Master Planned Community and the construction and ownership of various commercial properties in the Colorado Springs area.

When Lew moved to Colorado Springs in 1970, he became immediately involved in many community activities. He served on the board of directors for the city’s chamber of commerce, serving a stint as chairman; the Economic Development Corp., serving a stint as chairman; the Homebuilders Association; Penrose St. Francis Hospital, serving a stint as chairman; the Boy Scouts; and several other organizations. Lew was always a big supporter of his alma mater, the University of Wyoming, serving on both the Engineering Advisory Board and the University of Wyoming Foundation Board.

Because of his hard work and dedication to the Colorado Springs community, Lew had been presented with numerous awards. The Chamber of Commerce selected him as the Business Citizen of the Year in 1993; the Economic Development Corp. awarded him with the distinguished service award in 1999; the Colorado Homebuilders Association selected him as the Citizen of the Year in 1991 and selected him for its prestigious "Founders Award" in 2009.

Lew’s wife Sandi and his mother, father, and sister, Kay, predeceased him. He is survived by his significant other, Alina Carris, a true angel, of Colorado Springs; his two children and four grandchildren; his step-sister Donna Golden-Strube and his step-brother Michael Golden, both of Casper, Wyoming; his trusted friend Dr. Tim Wyse of Colorado Springs; and countless family and friends across the country.

Cremation has taken place and a celebration of Lew’s life will be held at a later date. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions in Lew’s memory be given to the American Cancer Society, Pikes Peak Hospice, or the University of Wyoming Foundation.

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