- Written by Jeff Summers Jeff Summers
Given by his son Lonny Jensen Monday, May 23rd, 2005
First, before I begin Dad’s Life Sketch, I want to thank all those who have been such a wonder friends to Dad and Mom. I want to thank all of you for coming and supporting our family. We have greatly appreciated it.
As you can see from the program there should be 4 of us up here to give Dads Life Sketch. But only one of us is up here. As most of you know I am the only son in the family and yes my sisters have once again picked on me. Let me assure you my sisters still love me and told me I wouldn’t do this alone. Later in Dads Life Sketch they will join me and give their own Tribute to Dad.
Life Sketch of Wendell Elias Jensen
Eight decades ago, in the years when horse and buggy was the preferred mode transportation. The price of a stamp was .02¢ a loaf of bread .09¢, and a gallon of gas .21¢. The telephone, electricity and air travel was still in the early stages of development. Computers, e-mail, CDs, and DVDs were not heard of for many decades to come. A baby boy was born on a Sunday morning the 14th of December to Marple Beaumont .Jensen and Gertrude Vivian Gardner. They lived outside the city of Shelley, a small farming community in Southeast Idaho. Marple and Gertrude named their 7lbs 2.0z baby, Wendell Elias Jensen.
Gertrude just liked the name Wendell. His middle name came from his Grandfather Elias Gardner.
Wendell was born in a small old wood frame home that had never been painted. The home was in the middle of his Grandfather Jensen’s 40-acre farm. These 40 acres would soon become Wendell’s playground and the place he would learn valuable lessons that he would pass onto his own children.
Wendell was the first born of seven children, Wyonna, ReaOla, Nida, LeOrnal, Bernell and Joyce.
(Dad was asked once if he ever fought with his siblings. His answer was “Doesn’t all brothers and sisters fight?” He goes on to say “Since I was the oldest I had to take care of my younger brothers and sisters. I remember teasing them a lot”)
Wendell’s sister Nida said, One day our mother had grown tired of the fighting between Wyonna and Wendell. So she took both of them out to a big mud puddle made them remove their shoes and roll up their pants. She gave the both a willow to smack each other with. They were to keep fighting with the willows in the puddle till they got tired. Of course they only began with a few taps at each other but eventually it became an all out fight with the rest of the siblings cheering them on from the edge of the puddle. From then on Wendell and Wyonna learned to become good friends and there was less bickering between them.
On other occasions Wendell and his brother LeOrnal would get in milk fights while milking and would squirt each other with milk and until one day Wendell dumped a bucket of milk on LeOrnal’s head.
I am sure if the truth were know and I had more time there would be volumes of stories about the antics of Wendell and his Siblings.
When Wendell became old enough he was given many chores and responsibilities. Some of those chores included bringing in wood and coal and taking out the ashes. He worked on the farm by caring for the farm animals such as the chickens, pigs, horses and cows. He did the milking, helped with the plowing. He cultivated and irrigated the potato crop. He helped cut, rake and ran the wagon when they stacked the hay.
Dad was asked if he ever argued about going to bed? Dad said “No. I was to tired from doing chores and was glad to go to bed.”
Between doing his chores he would keep busy swimming in the canal, riding horses with neighbor kids, going to the movies if he had money, if they did not have money they would gather beer bottles along the road and sell them and then go to the movies. During the winter Wendell enjoyed sledding, skiing on the farm hills and behind a horse. He loved skating in the frozen canals. Later in life, Wendell, would share the winter fun with his family by making his own skating rink in the back yard and enjoy teaching his children how to skate.
Wendell attended grade school and high school in Shelley. While a freshman in high school he signed up to take a metalworking and welding course sponsored by the National Defense. This was after school hours, and the only reason he got to take it at his young age is his dad knew the blacksmith. He had the opportunity as a senior to repeat the course. Anyone who had this course was eligible to go to work in the shipyards after graduating from High School. From this experience Dad grew to love working in the welding trade and would eventually support his family doing what he loved to do.
While Wendell was still in High school he registered for the draft. He wanted to quit school to join the Navy but his mother told him “No.” But in June 1943 shortly after graduating from High school he was drafted and began his adventure in the US Navy as a Motor Machinist Mate. The ship he was assigned to was called an LST, (a landing ship, tank which carried troops and equipment.) Wendell had many experiences while proudly serving his country. While he was in Okinawa, World War II ended and in April 1946 he was discharged from the Navy.
Dad’s service to his country has been greatly appreciated by his friends and family.
After his military service Wendell became interested in diesel mechanics and headed to Los Angeles for school, but after graduating he was unable to find work in a Diesel Shop. So he finally got a job land leveling. He operated a caterpillar and a carryall. Dad said he really liked the work but it was seasonal and it made it hard to make ends meet.
About this time he met his sweetheart, Margie Baker. They met at a roller skating rink in Idaho Falls. Margie was 21 and Wendell was 25. Their first date was at the picture show and after wards they had a shrimp dinner. Mom said, “Dad was very quite and smiled and winked at me a lot. He was very polite, kind, considerate and loving.” Needless to say Roller-skating became their favorite place to go on dates.
Wendell and Margie dated off and on for about two years. Finally Dad decided to propose to Mom. He said, “I asked her several times, but she wouldn’t give me an answer” Of course she eventually said yes in August 1951. Dad explained that their wedding was very simple. “We drove to Elko, Nevada, on Labor Day weekend and was married by the Justice of the Peace. We spent our Honeymoon in Elko and returned home the next day. Margie’s Sister, Helen, had an Open House for us a week later which was very nice. Two years later, however, we were married and sealed together for time and all eternity in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple August 25th, 1954.
Earlier Wendell had put in his application to work at the Atomic Energy Site, 50 miles West of Idaho Falls. On April 21, 1952 Wendell not only got a new job working for the Atomic Energy Site but also became a new Father. His oldest daughter Kaye Lynn was born.
Wendell worked at the Site for almost 38 years. He started out as a Laborer and went into welding then worked up to First Class Welder. He retired in January 1990. Dad made many wonderful friends while he worked at the site. He talked about them always and was grateful for their friendship.
Over the years After Kaye Lynn was born in 1952, Wendell became a father three more times. His second daughter, Jo Ann, was born in 1956. Then in 1958 his only son, Lonny was born. Of course Wendell gave a dozen red rose instead of white carnations to Margie when he was born. Then in 1960 his third daughter Trina was born and she completed his family. Wendell enjoyed his family and made time to be with them on every occasion that he could. He took them camping and swimming and enjoyed being a Husband and father. He gave each one of his children precious moments and memories. He continued being a wonderful Grandpa to his grandchildren and great grandchildren. One grandson (Chris Beeler) said, “Grandpa had a way of combining a certain sternness with uncompromising love. When I would do something wrong he would correct me, but he always followed it up with a wink and a smile, a funny noise, or he would crack a joke”
Dad had a way of always knowing what a person needed. Trina being the youngest knew that better than anyone.
A silent pause, the stillness of the moment filled the room. Without a word my dad and I could communicate to each other. My father has been portrayed as a quiet man but I would rather think of him as a profound listener. Dad had a way of asking a simple question then allowing you to talk while he intently listened. He was a man of few words, his actions spoke volumes. He took time with me to teach me how valuable life is. He believed in me when others didn’t. He encouraged me when I wanted to give up. He taught me things when I thought there was nothing to learn. There is not a day goes by that I do not think about my dad and all that he has done for me. He was there for the important things in my life sharing the joy and the sorrow I felt. Twenty years ago I was expecting my second child. Jeff was out of town when I felt something was wrong. I was sent to the doctor where they could not find my baby’s heartbeat. My father and my brother Lonny both came to be with me and they gave me a blessing. It must have been so hard for dad to be placed in such a situation but I felt his strength and his love as he laid his hands upon my head. I was so proud of him and loved him so much. Lindsay Marie was on this earth but a few short moments and then left to return to her Heavenly Father. Now she is at the veil welcoming her grandfather thanking him for his service to me in my time of need. I envy dad, he has a chance to be with my daughter while I am still here. But that was his way, to serve others before himself. He has passed beyond the veil, his love and his spirit could no longer withstand the boundaries of mortality. He is no longer here physically but will live forever in my heart. I love you dad.
Wendell was very active in his Church responsibilities. He had served in various assignments such as Deacons advisor, Mutual Super attendant, Executive Secretaries Ward Clarks and more. He will be remembered for his willingness to serve with out being asked and how quick he was to volunteer his time. He was a wonderful example to many and especially to his son and daughters.
Jo Ann’s Tribute — Dads great examples.
Early this morning, about 5:00am, I was trying to gather my thoughts and write my tribute to dad. As I stared at the walls in the living room, my eye caught our framed copy of the Proclamation to the Family. I would like to share a few lines that express the wonderful role that my father played in my life and in that of our family.
"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."
One of my earliest recollections of dad dealt with the principle of prayer. I was 6 or 7 years old. It was a summer day and dad and I were in the back yard. He was busy getting our camper ready to put on the truck. I don't remember what caused the camper to start sliding off its stands, but I was very alarmed and could feel the urgency as dad struggled to support the camper as it leaned against the garage. We were the only ones home. I remember running into the closed garage and kneeling on the hard cement. This was the first time I had prayed somewhere other than the comfort on my own bedroom. I pleaded for help and then heard a car in the driveway. I came running around the garage and to my surprise, I saw my uncle Clyde. He and dad had similar campers and we had traveled often when them. I never doubted the power of prayer from that moment.
Dad would be there for many more firsts in my life when I learned the principles of the gospel.
- Dad was there for my first of many camping experiences, catching my first fish (which taught me a lot of patience), seeing places like Glacier Park, Mount Rushmore, the ocean, and discovering my first starfish (by the way, that funny smell in the camper... it was my hidden starfish). These all helped me gain an appreciation for the outdoors and for Gods creations.
- Dad was there for my baptism, a first fathers blessing, when I walked into the temple for the first time.
- He spent many hours helping us move into our first home, and was there for the blessing of our first son and each child thereafter.
As the years have come and gone, I've watched first hand, our parents do everything possible to be there for us and help us experience those important principles of the gospel. We have watched dad face unbelievable challenges, many of them a first for him, whether it was the challenge of surgery, chemo therapy, or just the unknown, he taught me not only what enduring was, but also how to endure it well.
One of those enduring experiences was during his week long stay at the University of Utah hospital. During the surgery, the doctors had lost him and needed to revive him. Afterward, he wanted a blessing but we were in a place where we knew no one. After his request, I watched two highly respected doctors remove their doctors white coats, lay them on a chair, and as priesthood holders, place their hands on his head and give his a priesthood blessing. I know he was able to return home and progress because of that blessing.
Yesterday, we heard many express an appreciation for dad, remembering his kindness, his smile, and as one individual said, "the sparkle in his eye." It wasn't always the words dad spoke, but his example, his time, his smile, and those eyes, that we as his children felt such a Christ-like love.
I would like to share the lyrics of a favorite song, changing one word to 'father'
In my Father's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
He was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my Father's eyes
In my Father's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the
world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me gives me
strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my Father's eyes
And when he wraps his arm
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about
It's hangin' on when your heart
has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my Father's eyes
I love you Dad!
Wendell’s Testimony* (Hand written to his grandchildren’s in a booklet given to them
Wendell’s health had started to decline in 1998 from cancer. One of his Granddaughters (Kae Loni Jensen) wrote: “Grandpa has had cancer for as long as I can remember. His bone cancer makes him feel so week and sick that I don’t know how he can stand it. The cancer has made him shrink several inches since he was first diagnosed. Most of his shiny white hair has fallen out due the treatments but luckily has re-grown. His feet constantly swell up to the point they look as though they are ready to burst. Through it all he has tried his best to keep a smile on his face and a twinkle in his wrinkly old eyes. The laughter and mischief is still there too. Grandpa is still the kind and loving old man a Grandpa should be, even thru this rough and terrible situation. For that reason he is my hero.”
Kaye Lynn’s Tribute and poem
There are pro's and con's to being the 1st born in the family. It is uncharted territory for new parents and the handbook is experience itself.
So Mom and Dad blended their own life lessons to begin the adventure of raising a family.
Hard work and sacrifice-dependability and honesty-service, fairness, and unconditional love were a few of the many values, I’m sure, that were instilled in them by their parents...and these were the foundation of my youth and throughout my life. Even now, Dad and Mom have taught me lessons of patience and courage. Throughout his struggle with cancer, whenever I would ask him how he was doing, he would say "If I was any better, I couldn't stand if or "Still kicking...just not as high"
I was the only child for almost 5 years, and no doubt, spoiled. I'm sure they just wanted to give me all that they could, and didn't want to do anything wrong, for me it was their love and commitment and desire to do the right thing that made my childhood and teen years happy and strong.
Just like Dad, as I grew, I was given the responsibility of helping with my siblings and household chores....Even though, as much as I wanted to, mowing the lawn was never an option.
Dad's life challenges and experiences shaped him into a great Dad, grandpa and great-grandpa, and helped give my own family wonderful memories that we will always treasure.
As I continue the circle with my children and grandchildren, I realize we have truly been blessed by these goodly parents.
I hope that we can continue the adventure as valiantly and creatively as he did.
We would like share a poem I wrote to Dad that expresses how we all feel. It is called "Daddy, are you listening"
Daddy are you listening
To the things I did not say?
To all that’s in my heart
Is what I hope and pray.
Daddy, did you know
How much you mean to me?
Your quiet thoughtful ways
Taught how my life should be.
Thanks Dad for a childhood
With bicycles, jump-ropes and swings
A sandbox, tetherball, circus tent
Just the simple things…
Which created the fun
Thanks for green grass
To turn cartwheels and run.
Thanks for a home
With pine trees and roses.
For fragrant lilacs
We hugged with our noses
And though I now live
Far, far away
The home you provided
Will in my heart stay.
Thanks for showing me
The beauties of this earth
And for letting me experience
God’s creations from my birth.
I know it was your wish for me
To play the organ mellow
I hope that all the practicing
Made you a happy fellow.
You really didn’t say much
But I am sure that you knew,
That I was trying to do my best
And I wanted to please you.
Like you… I was quiet – a bit reserved
A deep thinker.
At times you would tease
And I was a stinker.
Was I spoiled? I’m sure!
How could it not be?
You met all my needs well
Yet helped me to see…
That life should be simple
And to take proper care
Of all that I had
And be willing to share.
I would like you to know
I’m enjoying a good life.
Because of your guidance,
I have known little strife.
Because you worked hard
And provided for me
A comfortable home and a close family
I was able to grow – be happy and strong
With a father like you
I couldn’t go wrong.
I wish I could have told you
And hugged you one more time
I love you so much Dad –
I’m grateful you were mine.
Wendell our Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grand Father, brother and friend slipped into eternity May 19, 2005. He will be loved and missed.
Wendell’s Testimony was hand written to his grandchildren’s in a booklet given to them in 1997 and compiled by Margie Jensen. Also Wendell’s life sketch was compiled from his own life history he had written about the same time his grandchildren’s booklet was compiled.