Posted: Thursday, February 08, 2001

Marcus Jensen

Former territorial and state legislator Marcus F. Jensen, 92, died Feb. 6, 2001, at his home in Juneau, following the death of his wife Mamie Jan. 19.

He was born Aug. 8, 1908, in Westhope, N.D., the eldest son of Fred Jensen and Neva Stephens. He grew up in Minneapolis with his parents, five sisters and brother. Interested in Alaska due to his grandfather's and uncles success in the Nome gold rush at the turn of the century, he came to Juneau in 1929. He worked briefly in the Alaska-Juneau mine and then became a surveyor for the Public Roads Administration, obtaining a two-year degree in civil engineering at Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis.

In 1933, he met and married Mamie Feusi. The couple settled in Douglas in 1934, and their son John was born in 1935. An accomplished athlete from his high school years, Jensen became a pitcher and "champion bat man" in the Gastineau Channel Baseball League. He was on the Southeast Alaska All-Star basketball team and was scoutmaster for the Douglas troop.

Jensen joined his father-in-law John Feusi in running the family hardware and general store, which became Feusi and Jensen Grocery in downtown Douglas at the location of the present library. He was active in community affairs, serving as fire chief in 1938; on the Douglas City Council in 1935, 1937, 1951-55; and as mayor 1945-47 and 1961-64. He was elected to the territorial House of Representatives in 1949 and served until 1951; then served in the Senate from 1953 to 1957; and the state House from 1961 to 1963.

"As a politician, he was ruthless in exposing what he believed were violations of the public trust," wrote Mary Lou Gerbi, in the Alaska Southeaster magazine, in September 2000. In 1966 he ran for secretary of state (later, lieutenant governor) losing by 600 votes to Keith Miller who became governor upon Walter Hickel's resignation. For many legislative sessions he was a lobbyist for Alaska contractors, loggers and bankers.

In the late 1940s he became a big game guide and continued guiding into his 70s. In 1973 he was appointed by Gov. Jay Hammond as the first chairman of the new Guide Licensing and Control Board, which shaped the development of the guiding industry in Alaska.

His family noted his love of Alaska and enthusiasm for the opportunities it offered. His interest in sharing that with young people continued to the end of his life. In 1998 he published his life story "One Thing After Another: Adventures in Alaska." He served as president of the Douglas Canning Co. and was a member of the Masons, Moose, Elks, Sons of the American Revolution, Pioneers of Alaska, Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Professional Hunters Association.

He is survived by his son John Jensen, grandchildren Aleria Jensen and Solan Jensen, all of Juneau; sisters Florence Johnson of Anchorage, Katherine Myland of Cameron Park, Calif., and Marian Towle of Ketchikan, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A visitation will be held 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Alaskan Memorial Park, 3839 Riverside Drive, following PEO services and visitation for his wife Mamie, which begin at 6:30 p.m. Funeral services for Mamie will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul's Catholic Church, with a reception at the parish hall, and for Marcus at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Douglas Community Methodist Church, with a reception at Mike's Place. Interment of ashes for both will be at the St. Therese Columbarium at a later time.

In lieu of flowers for Marcus, donations are invited to be made to "PEO-Chapter G" for "The Mamie Jensen Memorial Scholarship Fund." Send to Karla Donaghey, president, P.O. Box 34513, Juneau, AK 99803.

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