John J. Christiansen, founder of John’s Jewelry in South Ogden, Utah, passed away in late August after a battle with cancer. Christiansen was the father of five, grandfather of 24, and great-grandfather of nine children.

After opening his business in 1949, he became a member of both the Independent Jewelers Organization and the Intermountain Jewelers Association, of which he was a past president. Christiansen also was a member of the American Gem Society, the Retail Jewelers Organization, Jewelers of America, and the International Society of Jewelry Appraisers. He earned the titles of Graduate Gemologist, Certified Gemologist Appraiser, Master Watchmaker, and Goldsmith.

Christiansen served as a board member for the Eccles Art Center, director of the Ogden Credit Bureau, member of the Rotary Club and Ogden Executives Club, Charter Member of the South Ogden Businessmen’s Association, and was honored as Ogden Businessman of the Year. He also was a U.S. Navy veteran, and worked at Hill Air Force Base.

AGTA founding president Leon Ritzler passed away following open-heart surgery in June. Born in Almata, Russia, in 1943, he was raised in The Bronx section of New York. Ritzler is survived by his wife Beverly and three children.

Ritzler served as president of AGTA from 1981 to 1983, performing all the duties of the organization’s present staff as well as his own. Lacking an office for the newly formed trade organization, he rented—at his own expense—a room adjacent to his New York office. In February 2000, Ritzler was honored at the AGTA GemFair for his contributions to the association.