Services for John Jensen to be Held in Anchorage

 

John T. Jensen

John T. Jensen, 84, died on January 3, 2024, due to complications from leukemia.
John was born June 17, 1939, in Hawthorne, Nevada, one of two sons of Verna and  Louis Jensen.
John attended kindergarten in San Diego, California, before moving to Montana with his parents and brother, Duane. In 1947, the Jensens purchased the Holland Lake Lodge in Montana. A fire burned the picturesque log lodge to the ground the day before guests were scheduled to arrive.
Following the loss of the lodge, John’s family lived briefly in John Day, Oregon, before moving to Craig, Nebraska, near his father’s family farm. John’s mother was hired as the elementary school teacher in Alaska and John’s father was hired as the special assistant.
In 1949, John, his brother, parents and pet dog Tugger traveled north and across the Alaska Highway to the small Athabaskan village of Tanacross, Alaska. Due to space constraints in their single cab Ford pickup, John sat on his mother’s lap for all 5,985.1 miles of the trip.
In John’s manuscript about his life, he wrote, “In Tanacross the northern lights hung in the sky like beautiful green sheets rippling in the breeze.  I remember sound carried so well when it was 60 below. We used to go out and play when it warmed up to 20 below. Living close to the land is still important to many Alaskans and, as we become more urbanized, it appears many of us are looking back to see where we have been.”
John’s family moved to Sitka when  John’s mother, Verna, accepted a  job teaching home economics at Mt. Edgecumbe High School, which was established and operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. John’s father, Louis, was a master machinist and mechanic who owned and operated Sitka Marine Shop on Front Street (now Katlian Street). John lived with his family in an apartment behind the shop on the waterfront during his senior year of high school. He graduated from Sitka High School in 1958.
Immediately following high school,  John worked for Alaska Pulp Corp. as a construction laborer, helping dig tunnels to Blue Lake that provided water for the city and the pulp mill.  He used his earnings to pay for college.
John attended the University of New Mexico Military Institute, the University of Idaho (where he earned a bachelor of arts degree), Colorado State (master’s degree) and the University of Colorado (education specialist degree).
Following his education, John moved to Anchorage in 1963 where he built the family home. On December 18, 1965, he married Charlotte Jensen, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Anchorage. They have raised two children, Kay and Mike.
In 1964 he accepted a job with the Anchorage School District where he worked primarily as an industrial arts teacher for 31 years.  John also owned a commercial set-net site on the Combine Flats of the Nushagak River – he operated the site with his son Mike from 1987 to 1999.  He wasn’t afraid of hard work, and set-netting gave him the opportunity to work outdoors.
During summers, John could be found with a fly rod or a camera.  He was an avid sport fisherman and with his camera he captured the grandeur of the state over the years.
John enjoyed reading, travel and painting.  In his 70’s he discovered ballroom dancing.  John was well known for being a “do-it-yourselfer” and a jack of all trades.  He could fix just about anything.  His son Mike learned many of these skills while holding a flashlight for his dad over the years.
fJohn was a member of Pioneers of Alaska, Anchorage Igloo #15, Sons of Norway, and the Anchorage Federation of Teachers #1175.  He could be found helping with the Pioneers’ pancake feed during the annual Fur Rondy celebration.  He was a Fur Rondy Board Member for 10 years, and volunteered countless hours with the Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market since 1995.   He made many friendships over the years with Alaska Natives who traveled to the event from all over the state.
John is survived by his partner, Kay Gatlin, his children Mike and Kay, and grandchildren Lauren, Elias and Rainey.
John was preceded in death by his parents Verna and Louis; brother Duane in 1968; and his wife Charlotte, in 2010.
John’s Funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 13, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 2901 E. Huffman Road.  A reception will follow.   A celebration of his life will be held at the Carpenter’s Hall,  407 Denali Street, on Saturday, January 20, from 5 to 7 p.m.  The Jensen family invites friends to share a brief story of how John touched their lives.
John was a frequent donor to the Blood Bank of Alaska, giving 18 gallons of  blood over his lifetime, to benefit those in need of his rare blood type.
John’s final wishes included, “Give blood – be a donor.” Please donate blood in his name.  He also requested the consideration of money donations to the Blood Bank of Alaska, Dollars for Dogs, the Anchorage Public Library and the Nature Conservancy.

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July 2004 

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