Mary Jensen

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December 8, 1926 - September 14, 2010 A long time social, peace, and anti-nuclear activist, a dedicated early childhood educator, and a strong and independent woman with a "can do"/ "can take care of myself" approach to life, Mary Lou Jensen died peacefully in her home surrounded by family on September 14, 2010. Mary Lou was born in Pasadena to Esta Baughman and Frederick Henry Ellrott. She was raised in upstate New York, and spent childhood summers in Arkansas. In 1950, she moved back to California, and within two months, she had met and married Lennard Jensen. With two children, the family lived in Palos Verdes for a number of years. Mary Lou's social activism began when she joined the Pacific Unitarian Church in 1960. She was a very active member, serving over the years with the Board, and with the Religious Education, Social Action, and New Building Committees. After receiving her AA degree from El Camino College in Early Childhood Development in 1962, Mary Lou was the Director of the Portuguese Bend Co-op, and later taught for many years at El Jardine de los Ninos. In 1989, Mary Lou left her close extended family of Unitarian friends and followed her children to Humboldt County, settling in Fortuna. In 1990, she founded the Head Start program in Rio Dell. As the head teacher and Director, she continued to develop its programs and curriculum until she "stopped working" formally in 2001 at the age of 75. Upon moving to Humboldt County, Mary Lou immediately joined the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (HUUF). She was a very active member, serving as Vice President on the Fellowship Board for three years. She was also a long time active participant of the Fellowship's Social Action Committee, serving as its chair for four years. "Your daily life is your example and your religion" was the maxim that Mary Lou believed in and lived by throughout her life. Over the years, she dedicated herself to working on behalf of many social justice and non-violent issues. Her skills as an organizer and team leader led Mary Lou to become a co- founder and editor of "Random Lengths", an alternative newspaper that still covers social issues for the South Bay area in southern California. She was also the campaign manager for the progressive candidate for the 15th Council District seat in Los Angeles. In 1988, Mary Lou traveled to Hiroshima as a member of the peace movement to eliminate nuclear weapons. In Humboldt County, Mary Lou continued her activism through HUUF's Social Action group. She spearheaded for several years the monthly Social Action brunches whose proceeds went to support local shelters, food programs, human rights groups; organized or helped to organize the regularly offered Sunday services dedicated to social action issues; coordinated the annual holiday gifts from Santa for the children at the Rio Dell Head Start program, partnering an HUUF member with a child; oversaw the securing and installation of the area's Peace Pole at the HUUF; helped to coordinate HUUF's annual remembrance of the bombing of Hiroshima. After Mary Lou's work at Head Start had stopped, she continued her meaningful efforts by helping with the food bank at Fortuna Community Services. These and other similar efforts throughout her life were how Mary Lou lived her spirituality, a spirituality that she showed and taught us more by example than by words. Mary Lou was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, Frederick Henry Ellrott II, and by Lennard Jensen, her former husband. She is survived by her daughter, Kimberly Songer, and son, Craig (Betty) Jensen; grandchildren, Jayme (Heather), David (Rachel), Andrew (Leslie), and Amanda Gonzales; Zachary Kelly, Kacie (Nathan) Blacketer, and Eric (Christina) Jensen stationed with the 2nd Infantry in South Korea; greatgrandchildren, Shane Jensen, Max, Jack, Allie, Makayla, and Noah Gonzales, and Bryan Jensen; nephews Frederick Henry III and Mark Ellrott; and greatnephews and greatniece Frederick Henry IV, Thomas, and Kaitlyn Ellrott. Mary Lou also leaves behind many dear and loving friends. Mary Lou was a strong family oriented person, and had a great love for the outdoors and camping. There were many memorable and happy family camping trips in southern California. Since moving here, the annual Grizzly Creek campout in August became a major family tradition that Mary Lou looked forward to every year. Mary Lou was an avid traveler, traveling extensively throughout the United States and many countries throughout the world, always seeking new adventures. Please join Mary Lou's family to celebrate her life at the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (Fellowship way off Jacoby Creek Road) in Bayside, CA on September 24, 2010 at 1 PM. A potluck reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Northcoast Children's Services/Rio Dell Head Start. Please sign the guest book at www.Times-Standard.com, click Obits

Published in Eureka Times-Standard from Sept. 15 to Sept. 19, 2010
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