Jesse Rees Jensen

May 15, 1937 ~ November 14, 2020

Jesse Rees Jensen, beloved husband, father, Papa, great-Papa, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, friend, and disciple of Christ, graduated from mortality on November 14, 2020. He is reunited with his beloved wife Virginia, whom he has missed dearly since she passed in March of this year. Shortly before his passing, his children were able to gather at his bedside and say goodbye for a season to the father they adore.

Rees was born May 15, 1937 to Maurine Conover and Joel Peter Jensen on his grandfather Jesse’s cattle ranch in Ferron, Utah, where he later spent summers developing the strong work ethic he demonstrated through life. As a young boy, Rees rode a bicycle to deliver newspapers on a sprawling rural paper route in all weathers and seasons. His father famously taught him a life principle that he would pass on to his own children: “you can quit in the summer when it’s easy, but you can’t quit in the winter when it’s hard.”

As the son of lifelong learners and teachers, education was a priority and passion for Rees. He was a proud Jordan High Beetdigger, then earned his Bachelor’s degree (Physics ’59) from the University of Utah, where he played trumpet in the marching band. He received an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 1961. While at Stanford, he resided in Manzanita Hall, and entertained his housemates with nightly recitals of Schumann’s “The Happy Farmer,” complete with his own humorous lyrics about dormitory life. These performances usually ended with objects lobbed at the piano and grumpy shouts of “Shut up, Jensen!”.

Rees served in the Utah Army National Guard, and helped build the Guardsman’s Pass mountain road. He began his business career at IBM, then spent decades as a partner in Hermes Associates, developers of The Family Centers in the western United States. Rees served his community in many organizations, including the Cottonwood Hospital Board of Directors, Granite Education Foundation, and Sons of Utah Pioneers.

In 1962, Rees’s brother and best friend David met Virginia Urry at the University of Utah, and (as cherished family lore recalls) told Rees “I’ve met the girl you’re going to marry.” Rees married Virginia, his beloved “Blue Eyes,” in the Logan, Utah LDS Temple on April 11, 1963. He was an exceedingly loving and devoted partner, and provided tender care for Virginia after her 2015 stroke until her recent passing.

Rees was a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a willing servant of the Lord in many callings, including Bishop, Stake President, and Patriarch. Some of his greatest joys in church service came when he was President of the Missouri Independence Mission (all of you former MIM missionaries: our parents loved you so!) and in giving patriarchal blessings to members of the Mount Olympus Stake. Rees’s earnest, loving, and nonjudgmental approach defined his gospel service. “People before programs” was his motto, and he always viewed himself simply as an instrument in God’s hands, striving to deliver the pure love of Christ to people he served. He shared his understanding of Christ’s teachings through clear and simple three-word imperatives: “feed my sheep,” “come follow me,” “love one another.”

Above all, Rees loved his sweet Virginia, his family, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and each received countless hours of his focused service, prayers, and love. His 1970’s CB radio “handle” was “FAMILY MAN.” Whatever our need, whenever it arose, he stood ready to help (“when people need help, is when they need help”). Just a few days before his passing, Rees observed that he was trying to find more ways to serve his family.

Rees is known for his gentle, gracious, gentlemanly manner, and extraordinary personal warmth and kindness. To borrow from F. Scott Fitzgerald, his smile “concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.” He was forever looking for ways to “make a memory,” and always enthusiastically up for any adventure: gatherings at the home he and Virginia built in Midway, snowmobiling at Daniel’s Summit, sandbagging in Salt Lake with his young adult ward members during the 1983 floods, family trips to Disneyland and Sun Valley, pre-dawn December drives to collect truckloads of Christmas apples, or a quick escape for dinner at “The Train'' (Dairy Keen in Heber). The sight of Rees on his nightly walks around the neighborhood is already missed (his walks often included delivering neighbors' newspapers to their doors and bringing in their trash cans).

Rees’s familiar teachings of positivity and encouragement buoyed and guided people throughout his life. He always assured us—and believed—that “the best is yet to come.” Even during the trials of recent years, he would report that “many things are going well.” And of course they were, because he has “always been lucky.” We will miss his constant assurances that “all will be well.” Somehow we always believe it when you tell us, Daddy. You showed us every day of your life that you love us “to the end of counting, and then just keep going.”

During a particularly painful recent hospitalization, we asked what was on his mind. He replied “I’m just thinking that I have more blessings than anybody in the whole world.” Even with severe health challenges, and while grieving Virginia’s passing in isolation due to the pandemic, he always expressed warm gratitude to everyone who helped him. We join him in giving thanks to the army of angels who helped care for him and our Mom. We are grateful to the staff of Spring Gardens Holladay, from the Big Shot on down, including every member of the staff, and a few in particular (you know who you are). We wish we could list each of you by name, and we hope you feel our gratitude.

We are also grateful for the tender ministrations of our friends at Canyon Hospice, especially Lacey, Sallie and Streusel. Thank you for helping our parents and us through the last chapter of their mortal lives.

Words are inadequate to thank our precious friend and sister, Luisa Martinez, who brought so much light, comfort, and peace to our parents’ lives and ours these past two years. Her calm, dignified strength and skill, her sunny outlook, constant encouragement, and intuitive awareness of our parents’ needs have been priceless gifts. Thank you for walking Mom and Dad all the way home, Luisa.

Rees was preceded in death by his wife Virginia, his parents Joel and Maurine, and his brother Joel C. and sister-in-law Carol Jensen. He is survived by his four children, whom he called his “four stars”: Michelle Davidson and husband Chris; Rees U. Jensen and wife Lyssa Jane Hansen; Suzanne Jensen; Kristin Hart and husband Gary; 11 grandchildren, 5 grandchildren-in-law, and three great grandchildren; his siblings David and Julie Jensen, Rosemary and Kent Evans, Maurine and Scot Proctor; Virginia’s sisters, Grace Henderson and Jane Harris; numerous cherished nieces and nephews; and countless friends, including the “Forever Friends” group, who have met monthly for over fifty years; six grand-dogs (whom he loved despite a short stint as a USPS mail carrier) and two great-grand-kitties.

Due to the limitations of the pandemic, we will hold a private graveside service for immediate family only. We look forward to greeting friends and family at a joint celebration of our parents’ lives when it is safe to gather again. Many thanks to all of you who have provided us with so much love and support. We are truly grateful.



Guestbook/Condolences

Dear Jensen Family, We treasure the associations we had with your parents through the years. We enjoyed our traditional Christmas gatherings with friends, their Church service. Rees called Bill every year on Veterans Day to thank him for his service even when they were on their mission. They (Bill and ward friends) enjoyed monthly luncheons until Virginia's stroke. He was always a devoted companion We were especially touched when we received a phone call from Rees just a few short weeks ago. We quickly put him on the phone recorder to better hear him and record his words. Again he and we expressed our gratitude for our friendship. His genuine greetings, kind words, spiritual leadership will always be cherished.

- Bill and Renee Christensen
Ann and I were so fortunate to have had Rees as a dear friend and cherished mentor in our lives for the past thirty years. He lifted and inspired everyone he encountered, and helped others realize their best selves and most noble aspirations. He work ethic was combined with a rare gift of empathy and Extraordinary communication skills, which made him the type of leader who blessed the lives of literally thousands of his church associates and workplace partners....not to mention his extended family. So wonderful he can rejoin his beloved Virginia. We look forward to the day we can enjoy their wonderful influences again. Lives well led! Ann and Gary

- Ann and Gary Crocker
I am the youngest (first) cousin on the Jensen side. My mother is Maude, Joel's sister. Rees was thirteen years older than me. Even with such a large age difference I still felt like he was my great friend. He treated me like I was his contemporary. I admired him from the time I was very little. He was, and is, one of my greatest heroes. He was there for me at some very pivotal times as I was growing up. He helped me get my first meaningful job. He showed me how to be a true gentleman even while wearing his Army uniform. He always knew just what to say, and just how to treat others. I always wanted to be like him in every way. I knew he cared about me. I will always love him.

- Clifford V. Dunn
I was just told by an old mission companion of both President and Sister Jensen's passing. I simply want to say how grateful I am for the love, knowledge, and skills imparted on me by these wonderful people. They were with me for about 15 months of my mission and had a profound impact. I am now a business owner and father of three. I think of the Jensen's regularly in my daily efforts to be the best I can as a father and business owner. I rely heavily on the often stated words of President Jensen, "The best is yet to come". I love them and thank you for sharing them with so many. Kevin Jones, Elder in the Missouri Independence Mission 2002-2004

- Kevin Jones
Dear Jensen family, We are so grateful for the powerful influence Rees and Virginia have had in our lives. Powerful leadership, impeccable example, and overwhelming loving friendship. Oh, how we've treasured our relationship with them. We will miss them. Carie and I send our love and condolences to you.

- Guy Woodbury
I had the privilege of meeting President and Sister Jensen while serving as a missionary in the MIM from 2003-2005. They were both full of love and had a heart that was ready and willing to serve. They were so pleasant and will be missed by so many! I was so glad to have formed a relationship with them and appreciate all they did for us missionaries! At this time I would like to express my condolences to the Jensen families and friends. —Sister Jaquel (Turner) Stokes

- Jaquel Stokes
My husband and I adored Rees. His kindness and warmth were unmatched. He made you feel like you were the most important person in his life. My husband, Doug Beck, served as one of his counselors in the Missouri Independence Mission. We cherished our time learning from both him and Virginia. Classiest people ever. And steadfast in the Gospel. My husband passed away 10 years ago. I am certain he was there to greet President Jensen with grateful arms. Thank you for sharing your parents with Missouri for 2 years

- Sandy Beck
President Jensen was such a great man and mission President! While I am happy he's now with Sister Jensen, he will be greatly missed! He cared for the "one," and made us feel special. I loved meeting with him for interviews or at the visitor center and seeing his genuine smile. He helped me to always want to be better. Love you President Jensen! My condolences to his family at this time.

- Erin (Moss) Burch
Thank you for the writing of that wonderful obituary! It isn't easy to capture the true essence of a life in so few words, especially when it is filled with SO much goodness and love! Yet this was done so beautifully. 💗 Serving in the MIM was a highlight of my life and I was taught lessons by the Jensen's I think of or put into practice almost daily. President Jensen led with love and that love opened the doors to many miracles. I feel extremely blessed to have known someone that is so very much like the Savior. He truly was His disciple. One of my favorite memories is visiting them in their home a couple of summers ago with a group of their former sister missionaries. We each recounted ways he was an answer to our prayers (said or unsaid) and how when we'd question, "How did you know?" he'd respond with, "The Lord knows us and what we need. Isn't it wonderful?! And I'm His instrument." Even 15 years later, it was obvious then and now the lasting impression those experiences made. Sister Jensen listened with small tears in her eyes and with such a look of tender love as we all praised him. She rarely lost her composure with us and it was such a sweet experience to see her brimming over with feeling the spirit, and love for her life's partner. ☺️ He blessed the lives of so many! And I'm so humbled and priveledged to be one of them! I know he'll be my friend forever, and he's still lovingly encouraging and calling me "a champion" from the other side. There will be an army from the MIM when the time comes to have a service for them! I look forward to it and all the best that is yet to come! 💕 Thank you so much for sharing them with us!

- Martha Garrity
To the dear family of Rees and Virginia Jensen, my husband and I hold your parents in the highest regard. Serving with Virginia on the general board exposed us to a woman of talent, wisdom, dignity, and virtue. Rees gave her the greatest of support and was such an example to each one of us. I served as chairman of the homemaking committee which brought me frequent contact with Virginia, homemaking counselor in the general Relief Society. How I cherished each meeting. Evenings in their home were exceptional experiences as her homemaking skills and their ability as supreme hosts was enjoyed by all. We love Rees and Virginia and extend our deepest condolences to you and pray that the power of the comforter will bring you peace and comfort In this time of isolation.

- GARRY and LaNell Moore
Your soul and images will always live in the hearts of loved ones. Your physical body died, but you now can be with your loved ones 24/7 and 7 days a week. We will go and look for you someday soon.

- Peter Kao
Rees was a kind, refined gentleman who blessed all those within his sphere of influence. Please accept my deepest sympathy. I served with his lovely wife Virginia on the Relief Society General Board when she served as Sister Mary Ellen Smoot's counselor. I met Rees through Virginia and together they were examples of faith in their Savior and devotion to others. Rees will be greatly missed.

- Shauna Frandsen Frei
Rees was the most wonderful Brother-in- Law any one could ever have. Always a A Gentlemen. Virginia and Rees had such a beautiful love between them. Rees served the Lord and others in so many Ways. He will be sorely missed by our family. When my sister had a stroke 5 years ago. He served her with great love and devotion. We love all of his dear children also and we ask that they will be blessed at this time. Love Auntie Gracie

- Grace Henderson