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Edwin Jensen, 94, Ellendale

Edwin Jensen, 94, Ellendale, obituary

Edwin "Ed" Gordon Jensen of Ellendale passed away peacefully in his sleep on June 1, 2023 at Whispering Oak Place in Ellendale; he was 94 years old, one month shy of his 95th birthday.

Edwin “Ed” Gordon Jensen was born July 2, 1928 in Ida Grove, Iowa to Gordon and Clara (Sward) Jensen. He lived there for a short time until his parents moved to Clarks Grove, to stay with Gordon’s parents on their farm just east of town. Edwin attended first grade in the Freeborn County School District #23, about one mile SE of Clarks Grove.

They moved several times (Maple Island) before they settled in their home in Geneva where Ed, his three brothers, Marshall, Wyman, and Dennis and sister, Joanne grew up. Ed attended Geneva School through 8th grade and then attended Ellendale High School; graduating in 1947. He played football and baseball in high school.

On Sept. 29, 1948, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training. He then went to radio school in Camp Gordon, Georgia where he played baseball with the regimental team.

In 1949, he was sent to Yokohama, Japan, where he stayed until the Korean War broke out in June 1950. He sailed from Seattle to Japan in a ship that went through very rough waters for 18 days. In September of the same year, he was sent to South Korea where he served with six others on a radio/teletype team. While he was there, his 3-year enlistment ran out, but President Harry S. Truman signed him up for another year. Ed received five bronze stars for his involvement in five Korean battles. He also received the Japan Occupation Medal and the Korean Service Medal. He sailed back to the U.S. under the Golden gate Bridge of San Francisco and was stationed at San Luis Obispo, Calif. for a month and then sent to Camp McCoy, Wis. for a short time until he was discharged in May 1952. Ed played baseball when stationed in the U.S. and also in Japan.

Following his discharge from the Army, Ed returned home and met Norrine Thompson in Geneva. She had just graduated from Ellendale High School. They were married on Aug. 20, 1954 at First Lutheran Church in Ellendale. In 1957, Ed and Norrine built their dream home overlooking Beaver Lake.

After their marriage, Ed worked for Norrine’s uncle, Franklyn Dahl, at his service station in Ellendale. Television sets were just appearing and Franklyn began selling them and Ed became his serviceman. Ed then took over Norrine’s father’s farm where he milked about 20 cows and farmed fields of corn, soybeans, and hay. Later in 1963, they moved to Norrine’s grandparent’s south farm where they had a larger barn for cattle and larger home for their growing family. They rented out their lake home for five years when they moved into the big farmhouse. In 1968, they moved back to the lake home and this was also the year the Norrine returned back to her teaching career in Albert Lea. Ed retired from farming in 1977, because of heart problems, and worked for the Ellendale Elevator driving grain trucks to the Twin Cities, Mankato, and Red Wing; two times daily. He retired from the elevator in 1985 but continued to keep busy by mowing lawns and doing other odd jobs; he always stayed busy.

Ed pitched baseball for the Ellendale team in the 1950s and played with the Albert Lea Packers baseball team for a short while. After baseball, he played fast pitch softball with teams in Owatonna, namely, the A and P Bar and Kath Brothers; his position was short stop. Ed was inducted into the Freeborn County Softball Hall of Fame. He also enjoyed playing basketball with the local teams.

With a love for traveling, Ed and Norrine visited over 45 states throughout the years, visiting their daughter, Faith, who lives in Arizona, every year. Ed and Norrine traveled to Norway six times to visit Norrine’s relatives and also to Sweden and Denmark to visit Ed’s relatives. Ed’s paternal relatives were found in Jutland and Svendborg, Denmark and his maternal relatives were visited in Edsbyn, Sweden. Six months after Ed had a four-valve bypass surgery, in 1991, they took a 15-day trip on the Eurail Train Pass visiting: France, Belgium, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and Austria; a trip they treasured.

Ed enjoyed reading western themed books; reading hundreds of them throughout the years. He also liked to go deer hunting with the Jensen gang at the Jensen farm in southern Minnesota, every year during Thanksgiving, until his health prevented it. Ed also enjoyed researching the history in the area, especially collecting information about the old rural schools, and baseball and fast pitch softball teams in Steele and Freeborn counties. Throughout the years while plowing, Ed recovered and collected numerous Indian tools (stone hammers, carved out bowls, axes, and many other items); items used by tribes who camped on the east shores of Beaver Lake.

He also had a special talent of his quick wit in telling jokes and one-liners. Ed will be greatly missed by family, relatives and many friends. "Cow pie" for now!

Left to cherish his memory are his children, Faith Hanley of Arizona, Steven Jensen of Ellendale, Suzanne (Scott) Swanson of Ellendale, and Jane (Barry) Braaten of New Richland; grandchildren: Amy, Jasmine, Chrissy, Angie, David, Brad, Derek, Andy, and Alysa; great grandchildren: Bailey, Emma, Lincoln, Lochlen, Lacey, Jaden, Pricilla, Trenton, Oliver, Odessa, Liam, Livja, Luka, Blake, Brantley and June.

Edwin was preceded in death by his wife Norrine Jensen; parents Gordon Jensen, Clara (John) White; siblings; Marshall, Wyman, Dennis, and Joanne Neuhart.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 2 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Ellendale; Pastor Scott Williams will officiate. Ed’s family will greet guests at a visitation on Friday, June 9, 2023 from 4–7 p.m. at Bonnerup Funeral and Cremation Services in Albert Lea, and one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will be at First Lutheran Cemetery in Ellendale, MN with military honors.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to: First Lutheran Church, 503 Radel Ct., Ellendale, MN 56026 or American Legion Post #296 & Veterans of Foreign Wars #8941, P.O. Box 186, Ellendale, MN 56026.


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