Murman Evelyn (Sandage) Jensen
Winslow Alumni Class of 1932
April 2, 2010
Murman Evelyn (Sandage) Jensen age 94 of Rapid City, formerly of Wasta, SD , died April 2, 2010, at her residence in Rapid City.
Murman Jensen grew up in Southern Indiana with lush gardens, hardwood forests, electricity and indoor plumbing, with parents James Robert and Letta Ethel (Fettinger) Sandage, who loved her and in a setting rather like the ideal. Born the 16th of January 1916 she went on to extensively travel the world, involve her self in the heights of American politics and benefit all those around her with her hard work and great knowledge through books.
Her family were some of the first pioneers coming down the East Coast of North America from New England in the 1600’s settling first in North Carolina then South Carolina then traveling through the Cumberland Gap with the earliest Europeans into Tennessee, then Kentucky, then finally settling in 1812 into Pike and Perry Counties, Southern Indiana. Murman’s grandfather Thomas Sandage attended the “blab school” in Maxville, Indiana with Abraham Lincoln and later fought with the 58th Indiana Volunteers in the Civil war with Sherman at Shiloh, Corinth, Stone’s River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Rocky Faced Ridge, Resaca, Peach Tree Creek, Jonesboro, and the March to the Sea.
She was a would be Professor of English Literature who without resource during the great depression went to beauty school with the help of her maternal grandmother Lucy Grubb who lived in Evansville, Indiana. By the time she met Leonel Jensen on a train headed to Chicago in 1944 she had two beauty shops and had prospered through the great depression.
Murman began reading at age 5 and skipping two grades had read every book in the Winslow, Indiana library prior to graduating from Winslow High School shortly after her 16th birthday in 1932. She never quit reading, could remember the author and title of virtually every book she ever read and its contents. This led her to the Wall, SD book club as a member for over 50 years and to the Board of the South Dakota State Library during which time she took her degree in Library Sciences.
She married Leonel Morgan Jensen of Wasta, South Dakota at the end of World War II and came to the Jensen Ranch near Wasta in a semi arid country with no running water, a 32 volt wind generator for electricity, outdoor toilets, with a home heated only with wood. She taught herself to cook, to feed family, harvest crews and hired men, raised her children and stayed with it for 30 years until she and Leonel bought a fine home in Rapid City and moved to town in 1977. Their courtship due to the war found her in New York City working at Saks Fifth Avenue waiting for Leonel to return from Europe where he was head of 19 Divisions for the American Red Cross and the highest-ranking Red Cross official in Europe by the end of the war. They were married in Henderson Kentucky on February 11th, 1946 and moved to the Jensen Ranch to take over the family homestead.
As the 2nd, 3rd and 4th President of Friends of Public Broadcasting she was key in the creation of Public Radio in South Dakota remaining on that Board another 5 years. During her Tenure as President SD Public Broadcasting became financially solvent while adopting many of the processes still used today in its operations.
Shortly after coming to South Dakota Murman led the local 4H Club through the late 1940’s based on previous activities with 4H in Indiana. She was the Wasta Precinct Committee Woman for many years which lead her to become the Secretary of the State Democratic Party and from 1956 though the early 1960’s she was the Democratic National Committeewoman from South Dakota.
During the 1960 Democratic National Convention, where John F. Kennedy was nominated for the presidency, she wrote extensively for the Rapid City Journal of the activities of that convention. Her delegate badge to that convention has a simple number on it .. 1. At many major political events she sat at the head tables next to persons of note such as Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Paul Butler, George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey and Sargent Shriver to name only a few. On several occasions she spent time with Jack Kennedy, one time picking him up at the airport with Hubert Humphrey’s brother. She was a life long supporter and friend of George McGovern and among the group who hired him as Executive Secretary of their Party in 1953. She was Lorna Herseth’s Campaign manager all three times she was elected as Secretary of State.
She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution with several family members fighting with Nathanial Greene. Her families trek west from the Carolina’s was driven by their mortal fear and hatred of the King of England and British Rule.
Along with Marge Bielmaier and Gladys Babcock she was a founding member of the gourmet and bridge Club in Wall and helped found that same club in Rapid City. She involved herself in Eastern Star, toastmasters, Chautauqua and so many other things we couldn’t find nor remember them all quickly.
Murman and Leonel spent the winter of 1985-86 in their favorite place, New Zealand. They also enjoyed Japan, Australia, the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Turkey, all of the countries of Western Europe, Israel, Algeria, Venezuela, Morocco, and the Islands of the Caribbean along with Alaska and Canada.
Her parents and one granddaughter Maren Jensen and her husband Leonel Morgan Jensen precede her in death. She attributed the great bond of her marriage to respect and love based in shared learning from its dissimilar, diverse yet complementary attributes. Together Murman and Leonel had more friends and activities than anyone could count and an involved, active, accomplished and happy life together.
A Memorial Celebration was held at West Hills Villiage Multi Purpose Room Thursday April 8 at 4:30 PM.