Robert Edwin Jensen
Robert Edwin Jensen (1931-2017) A life well lived. An arduous childhood strengthened him, instilling an unwavering work ethic and a moral compass always pointing north. Bob came of age just in time for U.S. Army service during the Korean War; after the armistice, he returned to U.C. Berkeley to complete his undergraduate studies and a degree. After several years as an insurance company executive, Bob joined the profession he was born to-graduating at the top of his night school law class, he was sworn in as an attorney in 1971, the start of a distinguished career.
Over the years Bob built up an impressive trial record, and with it a greater achievement, earning the respect of not only his colleagues, but of his adversaries. He brought to all his dealings dignity and fairness, compassion, and intuitive feel for and understanding of emotions and motivations, and plain common sense.
Recognition and honors quickly followed, and he was inducted into the exclusive legal fraternity ABOTA (the American Board of Trial Advocates). While zealously representing the interests of his clients, Bob also gave freely of his time, serving on Bench-Bar panels and as a Continuing Legal Education lecturer, managing his own firm, and providing counsel and guidance to young lawyers.
His parents were Danish, who met and married after each had immigrated to this country. Bob's two older brothers predeceased him. He is survived by Bettye, the sweetheart of his youth and wife of sixty-five years, their son, Kurt, granddaughter Kaitlyn, and many nieces and nephews. Also left behind are a legion of life-long friends and admirers.
Bob respected his profession and the law, but he loved his family and friends, frequently gathering both together at home or on his houseboat. Time spent with the Jensens was a treat. With his favorite jazz arrangements softly playing-through a sophisticated audio system, successor to those which in leaner times he built himself-Bob would mix his renowned margaritas, or, being a wine enthusiast, pour his choice vintages. These were always followed by Bob's invariable toast - Kavalsig! (Having maintained for years that it was a traditional Danish salute, he finally confessed to having made it up.)
He knew himself, had his opinions, but was not dogmatic, open to the new but not taken with fads and passing fancies. In uncertain circumstances, oftentimes Bob would quietly invoke one of his watchwords, a proverb from southern Africa - "Before abandoning traditions be sure you have something of value to replace them."
So, Bob, from all of us - Kavalsig! We miss you and with fondness and love we cherish memories of you.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Feb. 27 to Feb. 28, 2021.