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Robert E. Jensen
09/18/1930 – 09/27/2023
After a life filled with incredible outdoor adventures, passion for his life’s work, and unbreakable devotion to family, Robert “Bob” Jensen passed away peacefully in his sleep on September 27, 2023 and is now reunited in heaven with his childhood sweetheart Marilyn (Martin), who passed in 2005; and son, Dane Jensen, who passed in 1997. The captain of the family ship, Bob will be greatly missed by his family: daughter Jenny and husband Richard Greenleaf, granddaughter Arielle Greenleaf, and g-granddaughter Ashley Driscoll; daughter Cynthia Jensen, grandson Jon Spinazzola, granddaughter Carley Spinazzola and her partner Mike Silva; daughter Lori Jensen, granddaughter Natasha Jensen, and grandson Joshua Jensen; granddaughter Jessica and husband Dee Thomas, g-granddaughter Kayla Thomas and g-grandson Devin Thomas; granddaughter Tiffany Sierra and husband Joe Blais, and their new baby, Sophie (Bob’s newest g-grandchild); and daughter-in-law Joanne Jensen. In addition, Bob considered his son Dane’s childhood friend, Michael Mahoney, to be his “unofficial” son.
In 1930, Bob was the first-born to Orpha (McCoy) and Loren Jensen of Detroit, MI and the apple of their eye. Legend has it that he weighed 11+ pounds at birth and had a full head of hair, ready to take on the world! Bob was the eldest of five and always took the role of “Big Bro” seriously, watching over his siblings with great care and love. He is predeceased by his sister Patricia (“Patsy”) Clements, and his brothers Howard Jensen and Larry Jensen. He is survived by his beloved little sister, Bridget Capo.
As a pre-teen growing up in the city of Detroit, one of Bob’s favorite past times was playing stick ball and the only kid in the neighborhood who owned a proper bat was Marilyn Martin. Thus began a love that bloomed into a marriage of nearly 55 years. In his early teens, Bob became the first Eagle Scout in his Boy Scout troop and was written up in the local newspaper. At Northwestern High School in Detroit, Bob excelled in his studies and loved competitive sports, lettering in swimming. In summer he enjoyed working as a lifeguard at Detroit’s Rouge Pools, where his Pa ran the boilers for the city. His beloved high school swim coach, Coach Laurie, recommended Bob for a scholarship at the University of Detroit, where he was awarded a full scholarship, swimming on the U of D team and winning many awards and medals.
In 1950, while still in college, Bob and Marilyn were married, and she took on secretarial work to support him through school. Graduating with Honors from U of D in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Bob was immediately offered a job with GE in the jet engine design division. He first worked in Evendale, IL then transferred to their Lynn Riverworks plant in Massachusetts, where he remained for more than 50 years working as a Senior Design Engineer in the military aircraft jet engine division. Upon his retirement from GE in 2003, Bob took a new position at Belcan, a GE support company, working on many of the same projects he’d been working on at GE. Bob was still working full time at age 82 when, sadly, he suffered a debilitating stroke that took his sight and caused him to lose his independence. Yet in spite of his medical adversities, Bob always remained upbeat and cheerful, never complaining. He set an incredible example of the power of a positive outlook.
While beginning his career at GE Lynn, Bob and Marilyn enjoyed living on the coast in Nahant, MA and in 1954, they had their first child, daughter Jenny. Needing more space for their growing family, in 1957 they bought a newly-built home in North Reading, MA and soon filled it with three more children: a son, Dane; and two more daughters, Cynthia and Lori. Bob was a great dad and outdoorsman and took the family on hikes almost every Sunday afternoon, either in the woods behind their home or to other nearby green spaces, like Lynn Woods. Every summer, Bob and Marilyn would pack up the family and make the journey by car back to Detroit to visit their extended families. Bob was always the family reunion organizer, and there would be wonderful barbecues and picnics and fishing excursions with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Then he and Marilyn would extend their travels onward with the kids to do some wilderness camping, in places like Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada or Lobster Lake, Maine, or some other far-flung place. In the winter, he would take the kids—and later, his grandkids— into the woods for tobogganing and ice skating, or to the mountains for skiing and in the summers he took everyone to the beach, or sailing, fishing, and just being outside.
Bob was an active member of several rigorous hiking groups, enjoying trips canoeing and camping along the Yukon River; fishing in Ketchican, Alaska; hiking up to the Mauna Kea Observatories on the Big Island of Hawaii; and bushwhacking in Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness. He also enjoyed SCUBA diving and catching lobsters and harvesting scallops. In the 1970s, Bob bought an historic Manchester 17 racing sloop and sailed with the family around Beverly Harbor and Misery Island for many years. A man of so many talents, Bob single-handedly built a breezeway addition and garage on his home and, later, built a two stall horse barn and paddock so his daughter Lori could enjoy her horses. It seemed there was nothing he couldn’t do!
Bob was also an extremely gifted artist, a talent that he put on pause for many years, always saying he would paint and sketch more when he retired (but he never retired). In the early 2000s, daughter Jenny introduced Bob and daughter Cyn to Monhegan Island with the hope of getting some paintings started, and Bob instantly fell in love with the island. Together with daughter Cyn, they enjoyed many years of spring and fall journeys out to Monhegan, bird watching during migration, hiking the scenic trails, and befriending the island folk. Monhegan was definitely his heart home.
Bob’s biggest love was always FAMILY. He loved being together with his wife, kids, and grandkids and he loved keeping in touch with extended family in Michigan. He loved shepherding his flock—a flock that included those who were not his direct kin— and giving thoughtful guidance. He had the most generous heart, always quick to share or lend a hand and always happy to stop and talk. He had a deep and meaningful faith in God. And he had a wicked sense of humor! You’ve heard people talk about “the Greatest Generation” — well, Bob was a prime example of one of those greatest. He will never be forgotten, he will always be in our hearts, and he will be missed by everyone who had the good fortune to know him. Godspeed.
A graveside service will be held at Puritan Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, 185 Lake Street, Peabody MA on Saturday, October 21 at 10:45 AM: please wait at the entrance gate (on the right after you enter) to be escorted to the burial site. A reception and luncheon will follow at Spinelli’s, 10 Newbury Street, Peabody MA from 12 to 3 PM. All family and friends of Bob are welcome to attend!
“O God, who holdest all souls in life; and callest them unto thee as seemeth best:
we give them back, dear God, to thee who gavest them to us.
But as thou didst not lose them in the giving, so we do not lose them by their return.
For not as the world giveth, givest thou, O Lord of souls: that which thou givest thou takest not away:
for life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only the horizon,
and the horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”
--Rossiter W. Raymond