William E. Christoffersen, a lifelong advocate for veterans in Utah, passed away earlier this week at the Salt Lake Veterans Home that bears his name.
Christoffersen, who would have celebrated his 94th birthday on Saturday, June 6, passed away due to complications from COVID-19.
“As a World War II veteran, William Christoffersen embodied the Greatest Generation and its commitment to service, personal responsibility and hard work,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert, after the Christoffersen family shared his obituary. “The state of Utah named the William E. Christoffersen Veterans Home in his honor in 2013 as a tribute and reflection of his life’s work. Jeanette and I were saddened to hear of his passing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
Christoffersen, a World War II Army veteran, spent a lifetime serving his country, both in and out of uniform.
For 75 years, Bill was an active member of The American Legion, one of the nation’s largest veterans service organizations. He held numerous national and department offices, including serving as a member of the National Executive Committee from 1963 to 1973 and again from 1975 to 2013.
“I had the distinct honor of meeting Bill for the first time in 2013. This giant of a man—both figuratively and physically—was inspirational,” said Gary Harter, the executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs.
“He was a steadfast, dedicated champion who dedicated more than 70 years to helping veterans in Utah and across the nation. Utah and our country are better off because we had the opportunity to learn from Bill as he walked and fought for our veterans.”
Throughout his lifetime, Christoffersen fought and lobbied in Washington, D.C. for veterans, meeting with members of Congress, Armed Forces leadership and several U.S. presidents. Many of his bills continue to serve as the basis of policies for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs today.
After joining the American Legion’s National Executive Committee, Bill made it his goal to build a veterans home in Utah to ensure veterans’ long-term care. It took 35 years, but under Governor Mike Leavitt, the Salt Lake Veterans Home finally opened in 1998. The home was later named in recognition of Christoffersen in 2013.
Due to COVID-19 public health guidelines, a memorial service will be held at a future date for family and friends.