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Say Goodbye to Roger Christian Jensen July 14, 2012

Say Goodbye to Roger Christian Jensen July 14, 2012

Say Goodbye to Roger Christian Jensen
Fountain Valley, CA.
Story by Richard Parks
Photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz


Roger Jensen and Pete Haak were the heart and soul of the Fountain Valley Car Show, which was first formed in 2007 to honor the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the city of Fountain Valley, California. The car show has continued on each year in June as a testament to the hard work and perseverance of Jensen and Haak and the staff of the city. Jensen became ill and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away two months later on June 25, 2012, leaving a void among the volunteers for the car show. Haak said that the car show will continue and Jensen’s memory will always be a part of it. Funeral services were held at King of Glory Lutheran Church on Saturday, July 14, 2012 in the city of Fountain Valley that Roger loved so deeply. A display of vintage cars and hot rods provided a fitting tribute to Jensen and his love of automobiles. Inside the church some 250 friends and relatives gathered to say their goodbyes to this kind and generous man. Pastor Carole Dyer opened the service by asking the family to introduce themselves. Jensen left a large and loving family behind and each briefly introduced themselves and expressed their love. The congregation opened with a song and then a slide show of Jensen’s life followed.

Joy Meinken spoke first and told the mourners how Roger Jensen could bring joy to a crowd. “He was a multi-tasker who could arrange to have a project finished quickly and well. Roger was always volunteering to help others. He was well known for the Roger Hug, in fact he was the Congregational Hugger. When I was recovering from a serious health problem, Roger welcomed me back and gave me a gentle hug and told me that I would recover and I believed him. He was that way with everyone,” Joy concluded. Fountain Valley City Councilman Larry Crandall spoke next. “Roger was a loving husband, father and friend. He brought out the best in others. He accepted people as they were. He was a strong, but gentle man. Roger volunteered to help Pete Haak with our City celebration and car show and made it the success that it is today,” said Crandall. Louis Espada was the next speaker. “Roger never lost his sense of humor. He touched so many lives around him and left a lasting influence,” Espada told the congregation. Roger’s son and two daughters then presented a scriptural reading from Psalms 23. Pastor Dyer spoke about how important Roger was to those around him and then asked those in the audience to write what they felt about him in special memory cards and return them to the family after the funeral. A hymn was sung, the Lord’s Prayer was recited, followed by Holy Communion and the benediction and blessing. A military honor guard played taps and presented an American flag to the widow and the service ended.

The family provided a short biography and it is reprinted here. Roger Christian Jensen was born on October 21, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the first of two children born to Otto and Meta Jensen. His younger brother, Howard Jensen, was born seven years later. Otto and Meta had been born in Germany and immigrated to the United States and they wanted to make sure that they gave their sons American names to show their loyalty to their new country. Otto and Meta worked side by side building their new home out of red brick and though it was small, it was snug and comfortable and Roger often spoke fondly of his first home. This occurred during the Great Depression when work was very hard to come by and when people struggled to survive. The family moved from place to place looking for work until they settled in the small town of Oregon, Wisconsin, not far from Madison. Otto and Meta started a commercial fox breeding farm with Roger’s Uncle Emil. Roger rode horses and helped on the breeding farm, raising some of the foxes as pets. He and his brother loved to go into the woods and explore. They would ride horses or walk and play in the forest and in those days children had little to fear. The breeding farm struggled to make a profit and as the depression worsened the demand for fox fur dwindled.

Meta and Otto moved their young family to the Pacific Coast and settled in San Diego, California. Roger met his lifelong friend, Gerald Burchard, while attending San Diego High School and after graduation, both of them went on to study at San Diego State University. Roger and Howard spent their free time involved in sports; especially appealing to them were boating and water skiing. Roger also played the accordion while he was in high school, but the instrument was bigger than he was, so his friend Gerald carried the accordion to school for him. Gerald and Roger remained lifelong friends and even moved to Fountain Valley, California together. Gerald passed away in 1985. Roger joined the Army and served in Korea and on his discharge from the service he went to work for the YMCA in La Jolla and also worked at the Parks and Recreation Department as a coach in various sports for young children. This was a job that Roger loved as he was fond of children and liked to mentor and teach children. He was also involved with the youth group at his church, Pacific Lutheran, in Pacific Beach, near San Diego. Roger went to work for Gillette Corporation in the mid-1960’s in the sales department. His area assignments included the San Fernando Valley and eventually to jobs with GAF and Dataproducts.

He moved to Burbank, California in the 1970’s and joined the congregation of American Lutheran Church, where he met his future wife Michele. They dated for a few years and were married on November 15, 1980. Michele was the love of his life and the mother of his three children; Bret, Cindy and Natalie. He and Michele traveled to Europe to meet his extended family. They also took their young family to vacation trips that involved water sports, such as boating and water skiing. They loved to rent house boats and explore the lakes they were on. Michele brought out the artistic side of Roger. She took him to operas and theater plays. In 2007 he joined his friend, Pete Haak and together they founded the Fountain Valley Classic Car and Truck Show as one of the events celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the city located in Central Orange County surrounding Mile Square Park. The show is now held every June in conjunction with the city’s Summerfest events. The car show has become a big part of the summer festival and is held in the park next to the fair and carnival rides. Roger and Pete could be seen together, attending car shows, races and reunions and handing out flyers for their car show. In late April Roger was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away two months later on June 25, 2012. He left behind his wonderful wife and family; Michele, Bret, Cindy, Natalie, grandson Seth, extended family, in-laws and friends. The Great Hugger went home to his rest.

Gone Racin’ is at [email protected].