Sharon Kay (Armitstead) Christner

July 24, 1944 ~ July 12, 2023 (age 78) 78 Years Old


Sharon Kay Christner, 78, of Three Oaks, died Wednesday, July 12, 2023.

Her life began July 24, 1944 in Isabel, Kansas, born to Dale Edward and Augusta Louise Armitstead. Sharon grew up in a good farming family in very rural Kansas, where she loved to get her hands dirty and work in the barn with her dad. She was a self-confessed tomboy that loved simple things, had a big heart, and thrived when helping others. These early traits were a template for the rest of her life. 

For those that don’t have the back story, here’s a short brief. She was married three times; first as a very young woman to a family friend’s son. They lived in Southern California, but it didn’t last long and ended amicably. She probably would’ve liked to spend more time exploring California, but after they separated, she moved back to Kansas to live with her parents. Her second marriage was to Bob Gray, and they moved to Southeast Iowa and created a sound and steadfast life for themselves.  It’s fair to say that both Sharon and Bob each did a lot for their community in their own different ways. They had a son, Gavin Gray, who genuinely was Sharon’s pride and joy. Bob passed away in 1990, and while he was a tough man, even years later she would speak very fondly of him when she was a bit wistful. A few years after Bob died, Sharon married Ed Christner, who brought her joy in their early years and many challenges and heartache towards the end.  Ed passed away in 2017.  Throughout it all, Sharon always worked, and was never too proud to do anything, from cleaning houses to working at the pharmacy drive-thru. She eventually ended her working career as the Deputy Recorder at the Washington County Courthouse in Iowa, a role she found rewarding and allowed her to interact with a whole host of people, which she enjoyed greatly. In 2016, Sharon moved from Iowa to Three Oaks, Michigan, where her son Gavin and his husband Thomas Gleiber (whom she adored), live part time. She loved her house and her friends and her dog and her cat and her yard and her sunsets there. It was home.

All the above is both required obituary fodder and stands on its own as a completely full life of love, heartbreak, and all the intersections in between. But it really doesn’t scratch the surface about the woman who was Sharon Christner. She was down-to-earth and generous. She was smarter than she ever gave herself credit for. She was braver than she ever believed she was. All were welcome in her circle – especially if she knew you weren’t welcome in someone else’s. She was technically a mom to only one human being, but she had the wisdom, love, and compassion to be a mom in spirit and action to hundreds over the years. Sharon could see you for who you really are, she’d meet you where you were, and she’d love you unconditionally. That generosity of spirit saved a lot of us over the years.

Sharon wasn’t much for fancy things or stuffy events. She said, “When I die, cremate me and bury me under a tree.” So instead of a funeral, we will hold a celebration of her life on Sunday, October 8, 2023, in her adopted hometown of Three Oaks, Michigan. The details will be shared on social media, through her network of friends and family, and on the funeral home website at

One last thing: Sharon sometimes worried that once she was gone, she’d be forgotten. So please honor her by helping someone who can’t help you, welcoming someone to your community who is different or lonely, being kind to an animal, donating blood, telling someone they matter, giving someone a hug, or as she specifically asked, planting a tree. Do it for Sharon and remember her often. 

Arrangements have been entrusted to Wagner Family Funerals Pobocik Chapel, Three Oaks. Please share a memory or a message online:

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Sharon Kay (Armitstead) Christner, please visit our floral store.

Friends and family have shared their relationship to show their support.
How do you know Sharon Kay (Armitstead) Christner?
We are sorry for your loss.
Help others honor Sharon's memory.


You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or by planting a memorial tree in the memory of Sharon Kay (Armitstead) Christner

© 2023 Wagner Family Funerals. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility