Erik Klitgaard Christensen – The Santa Barbara Independent
Erik Christensen led a 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 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 a US citizen). It was a wonderful little town, but Erik had bigger plans. He was apprenticed to the local baker and served in the Danish army. This brought him to Copenhagen where he became baker to the King and Queen of Denmark. He liked to tell the story of watching the royal family behind a screen in the kitchen to see how they liked his cooking. Unfortunately, Erik touched the screen which then fell forward with a loud crash and revealed the embarrassed young baker behind. Fortunately, the royal family took it in good spirits and everything went well.
Erik then had the opportunity to come directly to Santa Barbara where he started working for Rasmussen’s Danish Bakery on Milpas Street. He enjoyed his job there, but soon opened his own bakery, Erik’s Danish Bakery. It started on upper State Street on Calle Laurales, but later moved to the new mall being built on what had been a grove of lemon trees, La Cumbre Plaza. There he worked on making wonderful Danish pastries which the Danes call Viennese bread – “Wienerbroed” because they were actually pastry recipes brought by Viennese bakers who came to Denmark in the 1800s during a Danish bakers’ strike. He also made wedding cakes, of which this author had the pleasure of delivering 450 copies. He could make icing roses by the dozen using a piping bag and a platform with small feet that he twirled in one hand while holding the piping 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 live 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, barbecues, events with the Danish Brotherhood and Sorority and going to the Casino.
He owned a gold ’57 Chevy with a beige interior. In the winter of 1966, he bought his next classic car, a 1967 Barracuda sedan which he drove until his death. Every time he went somewhere someone asked him if he would sell his car, but the answer was always no. He appreciated the power of this car as well as its famous lines.
He made many trips to Hawaii and Mexico with friends and returned to Denmark many times to see his parents, two brothers and all of their children and grandchildren.
One of his proudest accomplishments was recently obtaining dual citizenship with Denmark, so he is now a loyal member of both his native Denmark and his adopted America.
Anyone who needed help could turn to Erik and if it was in his power to do so, he would help. He visited friends in hospital and convalescent homes; call friends who were depressed or sick or needed comforting. He never forgot a birthday or Christmas. He liked to display the Christmas cards he received from all over the world at Christmas time.
The pandemic has been hard on Erik as it took him away from his friends. They were his joy and his passion. His “open house” anniversary events were very popular. Every year on March 11, he prepared the most delicious Danish sandwiches and other dishes; prepare Manhattan, Gin and Tonics and Courvoisier Brandy; and finish with coffee and kransekage and wienerbroed. Let us all remember Erik on March 11 this year and every year and try to emulate this friendly and kind-hearted man and friend.