RENO, Nevada — Merle Christina “Christi” Olsen Blickenstaff, 42, died Aug. 29, 2012, at the VA hospital in Reno.
She was born June 25, 1970 in Monte Vista, Colo. , and lived in Colorado throughout her childhood. She was Colorado’s Miss Photogenic La Petite in 1975 and won Miss Congeniality at the world pageant in Baton Rouge, La. in 1976.
After graduating from Woodland Park High School, she married her high school sweetheart, Mark Paytas, and moved to California, where he served in the Marines. They were married 22 years.
Merle, as she was known in the Air Force, was an Aerospace Propulsion Craftsman. Her father, Nels Olsen, had also been an aircraft mechanic in his early career.
While serving the Air Force (1997-2003 ) she was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon, NCO Professional Military Education Ribbon, Air Force Longevity Service Award with Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Good Conduct Medal and Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon.
While serving in Yokota, Japan, her daughter Kayla Paytas was born. Merle worked at Sierra Army Depot from 2003-2006 as a civilian employee.
She lived in Delta Junction, Alaska for one year from 2006-2007. A member of Eastern Star in Susanville, Calif., Christi lived her life to the fullest every day.
Christi married Tim Blickenstaff Feb. 22, 2011.
Her grandparents, Nels and Merle Olsen; her uncle Frank and aunt Barbara Orton of Hooper, Colo.; her uncle Sid and aunt Bonita Sanborn of Monte Vista; her grandfather Ralph Goodnight of Rossville, Ind. and her cousins, Jack Fox and James West, who died in Iraq in 2002.
Survivors include her husband, Tim Blickenstaff, of Janesville, Calif.; her daughter, Kayla Paytas of Walla Walla, Wash.; her mother, Ethel Webster of Susanville, Calif., her father and stepmom,
Nels Olsen Jr. and Laura Olsen of Wellington, Colo.; her brothers, Nels Olsen III and Ryan Olsen of Colorado; her stepsisters, June Steffens of Wellington and Penny Cardona of Galeton, Colo.; her grandmother Isabell Christina Goodnight of Rossville, Ind.; her aunts, Linda Webster of Woodland Park, Colo. and Chris Fox of Rossville; her cousins, Olin West, in Tacoma, Wash., currently serving in the Navy; Eton West, Tim Tripp and Eddie Tripp, Tina Fox, Richard Fox and Phil Koeing, who live in Colorado, Texas and Kansas.
A celebration of her life was held at the Blickenstaff farm.
A graveside service and full military honors will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 3 in the Monte Vista Cemetery.