Memorial Spaceflights

Burton G. Christensen

"The moon will be brighter for us. Love you forever"
1930 - 2023

In Loving Memory of Burton Grant Christensen

April 8, 1930 - June 21, 2023

It is with deep sadness that we mourn the passing of Burton Grant Christensen, a brilliant chemist whose contributions to the field of pharmaceuticals have left an indelible mark in the field of modern medicine.  Burton passed away on June 21, 2023, leaving behind a legacy of scientific excellence and a profound impact on the lives of many. 

Born on April 8, 1930, in Waterloo, Iowa, Burt's passion for chemistry blossomed at an early age—so much so that he read every science book in the entire Waterloo Library during his early school years.  While other children played with toys, Burt had a chemistry set and created a laboratory in the basement of his parent’s home.  He continued to pursue his love for the sciences as he grew older, obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University in 1952 and then ultimately obtaining his master’s and Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Harvard in 1956.  Burt's insatiable curiosity and dedication to his craft led him to join the esteemed chemistry team at Merck once graduating from college, where he embarked on a remarkable career that spanned decades before his retirement in 1992 as Senior Vice President of their research labs.

During his 36-year tenure at Merck, Burt played a pivotal role in numerous groundbreaking discoveries and innovations. His expertise in organic synthesis and drug development contributed to the creation of life-saving antibiotics that have improved the health and well-being of countless individuals worldwide.  His commitment to scientific rigor and unwavering pursuit of excellence garnered him respect and admiration from colleagues and peers alike.

Burt was not only an exceptional chemist but also a mentor and collaborator.  He generously shared his knowledge and expertise, nurturing the talents of younger scientists and guiding them toward their own success.  His passion for mentoring extended beyond the laboratory, as he actively engaged in scientific forums, conferences, and workshops, inspiring the next generation of chemists to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge. 

Burt's dedication to his work, his colleagues, and the scientific community at large continued after his "retirement" from Merck. He was a highly sought-after consultant but he came out of retirement to assume a full-time position as Executive Vice President, Research at Advanced Medicine, now known as Theravance. Subsequently, he went on to consult for several other notable firms until a second retirement at age 80.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Burt was a man of many interests. He had a deep appreciation for art, literature, music, and astronomy in his spare time.  He found beauty in the world around him and captured moments from his extensive travels around the world through photography.  Burton's adventurous spirit and intellectual curiosity were integral parts of his character, shaping him into a worldly, well-educated, and well-rounded individual that everyone around him was honored to know.

Burt is survived by his wife Judy and daughter Kacey (Rich) Sharrett and 4 grandchildren; He was preceded in death by his daughter Marla.  His family and those close to him will forever cherish his memory and the remarkable life he led.  While we mourn his passing, let us also celebrate the extraordinary life he lived, and the profound impact he had on our world.

May Burt’s legacy inspire us to continue pushing our personal and professional boundaries and to make a lasting impact on the world, just as he did during his remarkable life.  May his soul find eternal peace, knowing that his contributions will forever be remembered and appreciated.

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