Age 88, died peacefully on March 26 in Indianapolis. The son of Minda James Watts Russell, Jensen was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 6, 1925 and grew up in Clinton and Terre Haute. He played the drums in high school and discovered his love and talent for art, which would shape his future career. At 17, with his mother's consent, Jensen enlisted in the United States Navy and served on the USS Bennion destroyer during World War II. A proud military veteran, Jensen maintained lifelong friendships with several shipmates and enjoyed attending annual Bennion reunions. His military experiences during these formative years helped him become a kind, caring and compassionate husband, father, boss and friend.
Upon his return from the war, Jensen married Barbara Lee Burgan, his childhood friend and sweetheart, in 1947 and they settled in Terre Haute. In 1953, he graduated with both bachelor's and master's degrees from Indiana State University, where he also received the "Outstanding Art Student Award." A job offer to teach art in East Chicago, Indiana public schools was too good to pass up, and the couple relocated to northwest Indiana. Jensen was soon promoted to School Administrator for the East Chicago public school system and headed the art department for 39 years, while also serving as the school system's photographer. Always a hard worker, he earned another master's degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology, chaired the Indiana State Teacher's Association Art Section, provided free-lance artwork for the IBM Corporation for 25 years, and served as Project Director for the Riley Cultural and Art Center in the 1970s.
At the age of 33, Jensen was named "Outstanding Young Man of the Year" by the East Chicago Junior Chamber of Commerce and, in 1985, received the "Humanitarian Award" from the East Chicago Exchange Club for outstanding service to the community. He served on the Board of Directors of the East Chicago Salvation Army, was a member of the American Legion, Post 369 and was active in the United Methodist Men's Clubs of East Chicago and Griffith. Jensen instructed evening art classes at Calumet College and was a member of the Watercolor Society of Indiana and often entered paintings in its art exhibits, as well as sponsoring and completing several watercolor workshops.
Jensen and Barbara raised their two children in Highland and enjoyed annual family summer vacations, participating in their children's activities, and were charter members of the Buttons and Bows square dance club. Upon retirement, the couple relocated to Indianapolis in 1990, and Jensen became active in the Indianapolis Watercolor Society and was a member of Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. He will be remembered as an avid reader and creative storyteller, as demonstrated in his annual Christmas letters.
Jensen was preceded in death by Barbara, his wife of 60 years, and is survived by his children Daniel W. Watts of Indianapolis and Cynthia L. Muir of Tallahassee, Florida; three grandchildren, Adam B. Watts of Crawfordsville, Samuel W. Muir (Erin Dunn Muir) of Tavernier, Florida and Christopher L. Muir of Jacksonville, Florida; one great grandchild, Blair E. Watts; and a special friend, Louise Shank.
Interment will be at Roselawn Memorial Park in Terre Haute. Donations may be made to the
. Cremation services entrusted to Flanner and Buchanan - Speedway .