A cowboy’s last ride

Paul Christensen made his last ride on Friday afternoon.

Christensen died Sunday of natural causes at his home in Sawyer.

A procession of a horse-drawn hearse with an entourage of many friends from Minot and other cities on horseback accompanying it, followed by family members in vehicles, carried the remains of Christensen from the funeral service held that morning at First Lutheran Church in Minot to the North Dakota State Fairgrounds. At the fairgrounds his remains were transferred to his family.

Christensen’s horse, a riderless horse, carried Christensen’s hat, boots, rope and other gear, and followed the horse-drawn hearse.

With the help of the Minot Police Department, the procession traveled on streets in northwest and northeast Minot.

“Paul loved a parade,” said Walter Piehl, a longtime friend of Christensen’s and an organizer of the procession. Piehl and other friends decided to give him his last “parade,” on the streets of Minot. Christensen was born and raised in Minot.

The procession included traveling on Rodeo Road, a street in northeast Minot unofficially named and one that Christensen’s father, the late George Christensen, a former Minot mayor, had promoted.

Paul Christensen had ridden horseback on the streets of Minot for events including the North Dakota State Fair Parade.

An educator by profession who lived his life as a cowboy, Christensen spent an extensive amount of his time volunteering to help others. He loved North Dakota, its outdoors and its history.

“I’ve always been a cowboy. Dad raised me that way, but at the same time I’ve always had an interest in history so this fit both areas,” Christensen told The Minot Daily News in March 2013 after he became chairman of trustees for the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Prior to his death, he had requested that his ashes be strewn at areas including at Sawyer where he made his home and in the North Dakota Badlands.