Erik Klitgaard Christensen
Erik Christensen led a very full life and is now missed by all who knew him.
He is survived by his nephews in Denmark, Kurt Klitgaard Kristensen and Kim Klitgaard Kristensen, and his niece Lone Klitgaard Christensen and their children. Erik’s friends in America were his family. Many have predeceased him but surviving friends include: Betty L. Jeppesen, Mogens and Annie Andersen, Annie Bradley, Birthe Plambek, Martin Christensen, Jytte Kirk, Bent Olsen, Eva and Phil Kirkpatrick and Helen Riley.
Erik was born in Brovst, Denmark to Inger and Niels Kristensen (yes, with a “k” – Erik changed his name to Christensen when he became an American citizen). This was a wonderful, small town but Erik had bigger plans. He was an apprentice to the local baker and served in the Danish army. This took him to Copenhagen where he became baker to the King and Queen of Denmark. He liked to tell the story of looking at the royal family from behind a screen to the kitchen to see how they liked his baking. Unfortunately, Erik touched the screen which then fell forward with a loud crash and revealed the young, embarrassed baker behind it. Fortunately, the royal family took it with good humor and all was well.
Erik then had the opportunity to come directly to Santa Barbara where he began working for Rasmussen’s Danish Bakery on Milpas Street. He enjoyed his work there but soon started his own bakery, Erik’s Danish Bakery. He started on upper State Street by Calle Laurales but then moved to the new shopping center just being built on what had been a lemon grove, La Cumbre Plaza. There, he worked making wonderful Danish pastry which Danes call Vienna Bread – “Wienerbroed” because it was really pastry recipes brought by Viennese bakers who came to Denmark in the 1800’s during a strike by the Danish bakers. He also baked wedding cakes which this author had the pleasure of delivering 450 of. He could make frosting roses by the dozen using a pastry bag and a small footed platform which he would twirl in one hand while fielding the pastry bag in the other. His cream pies, rum balls, napoleons, and petit fours were legendary. At the age of 45, Erik decided to retire and lead the good life.
He was surrounded by his Danish friends in Santa Barbara and Solvang and enjoyed all the parties with Smoerrebroed and Snaps, playing cards with friends, BBQ’s, events with the Danish Brotherhood and Sisterhood and going to the Casino.
He owned a ’57 Chevy in gold with a tan interior. In the winter of 1966, he bought his next classic car, a 1967 Barracuda hatchback which he drove until he passed away. Every time he went anywhere, someone would ask him if he would sell his car but the answer was always no. He enjoyed the power of this car as well as its celebrated lines.
He went on many trips to Hawaii and Mexico with friends as well as returning to Denmark on many, many occasions to see his parents, his two brothers and all of their children and grandchildren.
One of his proudest achievements was to recently obtain dual citizenship with Denmark so that now he was a loyal member of both his native Denmark and his adopted America.
Anyone who needed help could turn to Erik and if it was within his power to do so, he would help. He would visit friends in the hospital and convalescent homes; call friends who were down or were sick or needed to be cheered up. He never forgot a birthday or Christmas. He enjoyed displaying the Christmas cards he received from all over the world at Christmas time.
The pandemic was hard on Erik as it kept him from his friends. They were his joy and his passion. His “Open House” birthday events were very popular. Every year on March 11 th , he would make the most delicious Danish sandwiches and other food; have Manhattens, Gin and Tonics and Courvoisier Brandy ready; and finish with coffee and kransekage and wienerbroed. Let us all remember Erik on March 11 th this year and every year and try to emulate this friendly and goodhearted man and friend.