I never thought I'd be able to do this. The good thing about these kinds of experiences is that you realize you can do it and you keep moving your feet, and next thing you know you've done it. I had the same experience Destiny. I never thought I'd be able to handle the heartache...but somehow, by the grace of God, I did.
I gave the eulogy with my brother and sister at my dad's funeral. Every time I read it I'd just cry and I figured it would be a total mess when we were up there...but it wasn't. We did it. And it even was a good experience. Thought I'd share what we said:
Dawn: Gayle Clark Jensen was born April 6, 1944. Those that know our dad know that when he decides to do something, he does it. His birth was no different. He wasn't due for another two months, but he came anyway! He was born with the cord wrapped around his neck. Nana Jensen was a young and inexperienced mother and wisely enlisted he help of Dad's Grandma, Maud Jensen. She nursed him back to health and began a fierce and loyal relationship with her grandson. Dad continued to be very close to his grandparents and all the Jensen cousins and aunts and uncles as he grew. He spent a lot of time at his grandparents and enjoyed going there to stay. He grew up in Taber and had plenty of cousins and aunts and uncles around and had a great devotion to family. He taught us how important family is.
Gaylene: When my dad was 6 years old his little sister came into his life. He really did want a brother, but Aunt Pat was a sweetheart so he was happy with her. He did, however, proceed to mould her into quite a tomboy. She became the goal post for them and his friends when they played hockey. Pat did very well at keeping up and became quite a good friend to many of Gayle's friends. They spent many happy holidays together camping and traveling as a family.
Neil: One day while he was at his grandparents they had a fire in the house. Grandma and Grandpa took Dad to safety and then proceeded to fight the fire and try to save their home and belongings. Dad didn't seem too worried about the house, just about a little stuffed dog that he loved dearly. He kept yelling at his grandmother, "Save my dog, Grandma!"
Gaylene: His fascination with fire continued in his childhood. Another time he was home alone with they lived on the south side of Taber. The lights went out so Dad decided to use a candle for light. He sat the candle too close to the curtains in the living room and they went up in smoke. Fortunately, the fire was caught and extinguished before anymore damage could be done.
Neil: Even later in life fire was fun. he and his friends loved to play knock-out-ginger, a game where you ring the doorbell on some unsuspecting homeworkers and run! One particular neighbor always made a big fuss when they did this, so Dad his his buddy, Blaine Burbank, decided to fix him. They went to the stockyards and found the biggest and freshest cow pie they could find, wrapped it in newspaper, and put it on the man's doorstep. Before ringing the doorbell they lit the paper on fire and hid in the bushes to watch as the poor man came to the door, discovered the fire and proceed to stomp it out with his house slippers - while they rolled in laughter behind a nearby bush.
Dawn: My dad always was good with money. Well, maybe not always. He didn't start out that smart with money. When he was young his dad worked on an oilrig and they lived in a trailer at the oilrig. His dad was at work and his mother was busy cooking in the camp kitchen. Dad decided it was cold in the trailer so he started to make a fire to warm things up. The only paper he could find was his dad's payroll stashed in the cupboard. He had just put the money in the stove and was in the process of lighting it when his parents arrived and, um, "suggested" he use something else.
Some might have said that he wasn't that cultured - BUT he could recite from memory the entire poem "Casey at the Bat". When he was in Grade One he came home and proudly declared that his teacher had told him he could sing monotone perfectly. Years later he was blessed to get to know Terry Wasden. She was never afraid of a challenge and took him on as a singing student. After working with her he performed in the Kiawanis Festival and took second place - of the two performers in his category. Truthfully, that singing talent didn't stick around that long. But we gave him credit for trying!
Neil: Blaine relayed a story to us the other night about himself and dad. They decided they needed to make some money so they walked from Taber to Purple Springs and back looking up and down the ditches for bottles. They walked about 20 miles that day and made a total of 22 cents each Blaine told us that the only good thing about that day was walking and talking with dad.
Gaylene: In my dad's life sports weren't a game. Sports were life. Whatever the game was he'd stick with us until he got really good at it. He was the true example of a sports fanatic. Whether it was skipping rocks, marbles, the exact minute the plane would land, or track and field, hockey or baseball, he played it! When he was being treated for lymphoma he even made a game of his hospital visits. He had an on-going bet with a variety of nurses on many different things: How long it would take for the porter to come, when the doctor would show up, or how long the treatment would take. In the end, I think he was down about $10,000.
Dawn: He started playing marbles in school and even won a marble championship in Grade 7. he always managed to be on the winning team in high school house leagues. He and Ron Conrad won the doubles ping-pong every year he was in high school. His intramural team won the championship every year in highschool as well.
Neil: He started playing hockey at a young age on an ice pond in the back yard. He started playing organized hockey in Grade 3 and hockey became his favorite sport. Some of his coaches were Frank Burbank, Bill Westora, Alvin Bissett and Ted Allen. In Midget they went to the Alberta finals. In Juvenile they won the Alberta Championship. He even managed to play hockey on his mission with the Danish National Team. In Kelowna he coached a senior men's hockey team called The Kelowna Packers. I remember many bus rides with the Kelowna Packers.
Gaylene: He started playing baseball in Grade 6. In Grade 7 he played on a little league baseball team that won the Alberta Championship. They beat Lacombe 1-0. It was a one-man show as Ken Uyesugi pitched a no-hitter and hit a home run. The team went to Trail, BC next and lost to them 6 to 3. Trail went on to the Little League World Series that year. He continued to play sports in his adults years. He played ball in Lethbridge for a team called the Lethbridge Financiers. Mom and dad made many good friends with the players and wives on that team.
Dawn: Organized hockey started for him in grade 3. He started our playing goal. It was a sure way of getting lots of ice time. His first hockey team stayed together for 4 years and went undefeated. In Gr 9 dad joined the track and field team. He was a great runner. Even though he wasn't a long distance runner, he held an Alberta record for 16 years for the mile. Also, in this time dad started to play fastball. His ward formed a team that in his words was the best team by far. They defeated Cardston in the regional final 24-2 in a two game total run series. The church rules required the team members to attend church regularly and keep the word of wisdom. The powers-that-be decided that there was one questionable team member who they accused of breaking these rules. The team was disqualified and they didn't get to go to the all-Church finals in Salt Lake city. The next year they defeated Cardston once again and got their trip to Salt Lake. They were the first Canadian team to win games at this level. However, they were defeated in the end.
Gaylene: He made many friends through sports. He struck up a friendship with Blaine Burbank and they would play baseball or basketball for at least 8 hours a day. they played baseball for hours by batting the ball against the side of an elevator until they wore the siding off one side. He has a number of friends he's made through the years that moved on to play in the NHL. For a number of years we had Junior Hockey players in Lethbridge live with our family we would attend all their games together as a family. We learned that when the sports news was on the radio we'd better be quiet, as well as whenever there was a power-play on a hockey game being broadcast on the radio.
Neil: He always encouraged us to play sports and coached many of the teams we were involved with. One memory we all have that defined dad's sense of competition happened when Gaylene and I were playing the final game for the softball regional championship in Vancouver. We were leading by 12 runs. He was ready to finish up the game. The mercy rule was if you were ahead so many runs by a certain inning the game was called. I hit a home run with two people on base, one being my sister, Gaylene. I was a way faster runner than her. I think she was on 2nd but by the time she got just past 3rd I was hot on her tail. After touching homeplate the ump called Gaylene out for not touching third base - which actually had not been pinned down and was way off the mark for where it was supposed to be. Dad was SO mad that he punted 3rd base and sent it flying into left field.
Gaylene: Any vacation was made better if it could include a professional league game of some sort. He was a walking dictionary of sports trivia and would often start his Sunday School lessons with a sports update or a trivia question. He attended every one of our games and continued to do that with his grandchildren whenever he could. He was especially proud of Taylor recently when she received the MVP award after a weekend of basketball. He would travel for hours to watch a swim meet, or a soccer game, or any other sport his grandchildern were involved in. He always had a couple tips for them to help them get the edge and thrilled in their victories.
Dawn: In September 1963 my dad went on a mission to Denmark for three years. His ancestors immigrated to Utah from Denmark when they learned about the church. He was thrilled to e able to learn the language and developed a great love for the Danes. He always told us many interesting stories from his mission. Some of our favorites were the group he arrived in Denmark with. There were 12 Elders and one sister. They became known as Sister Dunn and her 12 Apostates. I think that's because he always believed in having a good time no matter what he did, and that continued on his mission.
He had great success on his mission. He traveled with a group of missionaries called The Singing Mormons who helped the church become more known thee. He made many friends and continued those friendships through the rest of his life. We had the opportunity to have two girls from Denmark come live with our family at different times: Christhel Neilsen and Lina Andersen and we continue to keep in touch with them as well as their families. Lina lives near us now in Magrath. He has kept in touch with a number of his companions and the people he taught. we're thrilled that one of his companions is even able to be here today: Richard Dorsey from Utah. Thank you for coming.
He took mom back to Denmark a number of times and we've all had the chance to visit Denmark. he always told us that Danish is the language spoke in heaven - so we're sure he's speaking in Danish now.
Gaylene: Mom says some of her earliest memories of dad were when hew as in Grade Two, crouched on the ground with his friends, playing marbles. Mom remembers admiring his curly hair. They lived near each other and their families knew each other. In Grade 7 they went on their first date to an Air Cadet dance. They arrived together and never saw each other the rest of the night. Mom says that she danced and visited with all sorts of people that night and had no idea what dad was doing. When Nana picked mom up from the dance and didn't see Gayle anywhere she asked where he might be. Mom said she had no idea! It wasn't until years later that she found out that he had gone to the shooting gallery and then home to watch wrestling that night.
Neil: They did continue dating and mom waited for dad while he was on his mission. They got married on July 15, 1966. They had three children: Dawn, Gaylene and Neil. Throughout their married life they've had the opportunity to travel extensively and enjoy many adventures together. Mom says she always felt like she was blessed with the most wonderful husband in the world. Her dad once said that he knew that if she married Gayle she'd always be well taken care of, and he was right.
Dawn: Mom cared for dad while he was ill and took great are to make sure he was comfortable and happy. I'm sure he'll continue to watch over her and care for her. He was concerned about leaving her and voiced this often. We promised him that we will take good care of her.
Gaylene: Ever since he was old enough to work Dad always had a job. He worked to Skyway Air Spray Company as a flagman. he worked on farms hoeing, combining and swathing. The mayor in Taber hired him in high school to take care of his garden and yard. He drove a school bus for the school division when he was in Grade 12. He drove the route that took him past Uncle Arley and aunt Edna's houses. He only left his cousins a couple of times, much to his Aunts' dismay.
When dad came home from his mission he went to work at Thomas Cook Travel. As a result he had the opportunity to travel extensively. He returned to Denmark several times a year. The head office for Thomas Cook Travel was in England and when he would travel to the head office he would often make a stop in Denmark. While working for Thomas Cook mom and dad traveled to Russia, china, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Malasia, Kuala Lumpur, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bahamas, Brazil, England, Scotland, Holland, Luxemburg, Belgium, France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, West Germany, East Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and many places in the U.S.A. He also had the opportunity to fly on many of the inaugural flights for different airlines. He took the first flight with KLM airlines from Amsterdam to Stockholm, the first Air France flight from Paris to Moscow, and the first Qantas flight to the South Pacific. One of his most memorable flights was aboard the Concord during its inaugural flight from Paris to Rio de Janeiro. He moved up through the managerial chain at Thomas Cook until he realized the next move would be to a bigger city like Toronto or Vancouver and so he started to look around for different options.
Dawn: Thanks to his hard work ethic and business-minded ways he often worked one or two jobs and had a business on the side. He was able to build up a nest egg from the office cleaning business he and mom started. We would go as a family and help vacuum or clean ashtrays and empty garbages. He wanted to venture out on his own and after much thought and research leaned towards the motel industry. Mom wasn't that keen on the idea until she read the life history of President Kimball. He told of his he had attempted and became successful in many different businesses and did very well in some, and lost his shirt in others. Mom decided that if a man as great as President Kimball could try things and accept defeat often, we too could stand the risk. Dad was just waiting for mom to give him the green light because when he told him she was willing to go the hunt was on for a motel to buy. They found one in Kelowna called The Four Seasons and off we were for a new adventure. We all worked in the motel. We cleaned rooms, mowed grass, cleaned pools, worked on the desk, fill the pop machines and answered the night bell, and more. We'll always be grateful for the good work ethic our dad taught us.
Neil: They spent many years in Kelowna until they decided to move back to Alberta to return to friends and family. Dad continued in the hotel management industry and had the opportunity to manage hotels in Lethbridge, Jasper, Calgary, Fernie, Canmore, and Peace River - but his favorite was Waterton's Prince of Wales Hotel. It was a beautiful property with a cute little house for them just down the hill. The staff for the hotel lived in dorms right by their house and they spent their summers enjoying the students that would come work there. Every season they baptized someone. Dad used to tease them, telling them they better not stand too close to the lake or he would baptize them. The kids that worked there loved him too and returned season after season to work for him.
Dawn: Throughout his working career he gave opportunities to almost all our cousins to come and work in the summers or after graduation. They all worked in the hotels and in the travel agency. his last hotel he worked at was in Peace River and he always said he was sorry he took so long to find that company as they treated their employees amazingly well and had a great property. He took a leave from the hotel in Peace River when he became ill. He made many friends there and kept in touch with them through his illness.
Gaylene: Dad knew how to find the humor in any situation. Or many it was just that we learned how to tell stories to laugh at him. Not sure.
When he was is the hospital in November they decided one night to change him to another room. The hockey game had already started and so he told them he was busy and couldn't go. They assured him they'd get his TV hooked up right away so that he wouldn't have to miss much. He finally relented and they moved him to his new room. We were there for probably 10 minutes and hew as getting antsy because his TV still wasn't hooked up. Finally he said to Dawn and I: Would you go downstairs and talk to someone! They told me I have 2-6 weeks to live and they're waiting to hook up my TV?! Get a move on!
Dawn: While Mom and Dad lived in Waterton they had experiences with all sorts of wildlife. One day while mom was in the kitchen she heard a scratching that was cause for concern. She looked around and finally, behind the fridge, saw two big beady eyes staring up at her. She hollered to her dad to get in there and help her. She said, "There's something behind the fridge, and it's not a mouse!" Dad got a groom and moved the fridge out of the way and started to encourage the rat our of the house. The rat however, wasn't that afraid of him and started crawling up the broom. We LOVE to talk about how dad screamed like a girl and threw the broom our the door.....somehow he didn't think that was that funny though.
Gaylene: Dad loved the gospel and served wherever he was asked to serve. He particularly enjoyed teaching. When he was first married he taught early morning seminary at Bowness High School in Calgary. He spent many years as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher and also as a Gospel Essentials Teacher. He served in the Bishopric, in the Stake Sunday School presidency and on the High Council in the different wards and stakes that he lived in. He knew the scriptures well and loved to quote them and teach from them. We know that he is happy now. As he slipped away into the next life he had a big smile on his face. Dawn has a friend of another faith who said that her pastor says that people who are ready to meet God always smile when the ypass on. I think she was right.
Dad lived a great life. He has many friends and family that will miss him dearly. He always had time to chat with anyone, and loved it when people would stop by to visit. Our house was always open to people who needed somewhere to stay. He happily let us have all our friends over to eat our food, mess upt he house, jump on the trampoline and watch movies.
We want to thank all the people who took the time to visit with him when he was ill.
We are grateful for his example, and thankful to you for joining us to celebrate his life.