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Harold (Hal) Jensen, Jr.

Posted 2012-10-11 by Sharla
Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff, Arizona,
Thursday, October 11, 2012

Flagstaff's "Head Elf" has died.

Harold "Hal" Jensen Jr., who founded the Flagstaff Community Toys for Tots program in 1995, died Saturday, Oct. 6., in Flagstaff. He was 82.

Jensen founded the all-volunteer program in 1995 and collected 500 toys.

In 2011, Flagstaff Toys for Tots collected 14,749 toys for 9,633 needy children.

"Nobody in this town gives more back to this town than Hal Jensen," wrote Rick Wiselus in nominating Jensen for the Arizona Daily Sun Male Citizen of the Year Award, which he won last year.

Jensen retired in 1974 from the U.S. Marine Corps as a major after 26 years of active duty. He first got involved with Toys for Tots in 1953, when he was a Marine recruiter in Jacksonville, Fla. When Marine League Charities formed a detachment in Flagstaff, Jensen immediately offered to start up a local Toys for Tots program.

Over the years, Jensen told the Daily Sun in an interview last year, he would put in as many as 25 volunteer hours a week during the Christmas season helping to gather and distribute toys.


Although he "retired" from active leadership of the program in 2007, he was still putting in long volunteer hours right up through last Christmas.

"I'm retired from Toys for Tots, but I'm still around, but I don't do any thinking," Jensen said during last year's interview. "I do the grunt work. Whatever they want me to do, as long as it doesn't require too much effort."

Although he was modest, people who worked with Jensen thought of him as a gem.

"He is a gentleman's gentleman and a leader of leaders," wrote Pat Carr, Marine League Charities director, in his Citizen of the Year nomination letter for Jensen.

Although his pace had slowed, Jensen was still actively involved last year in all the Marine League Charities programs, including the Wounded Marines Program, which provides funding for activities for wounded Marines and for relatives and friends visiting their wounded Arizona Marines, and also the Flagstaff Arts and Sports Together (FAAST) program, which gives financial support to economically disadvantaged young people.

"I've had a lot of attention," Jensen said after being notified of his Citizen of the Year honor. "I would rather be low-key. I think the organizations are more important."


Hal Jensen was born June 2, 1930, in Eugene, Ore., to Leone and Harold Jensen.

He attended Oregon State University on a basketball scholarship, but after one semester, he left to enlist in the Marines. He became a commissioned officer as a second lieutenant and served in Vietnam in 1967-68. He graduated from Chaminade University in 1973 with a degree in business.

After his retirement from the Marines, he became an instructor for the Junior ROTC program at Tuba City High School for four years, then moved to Flagstaff, where he went into the real estate business until his retirement.

He ran two marathons and was an avid hiker, river rafter and cross-country skier.

He is survived by Marilyn, his wife of 57 years; four children, Tanner Jensen of Vernon Hill, Va.; Harold Jensen III (Shelly) of Spotsylvania, Va.; Jonathan Jensen of Flagstaff; and Hampton Jensen (Dawn) of Oro Valley; and four grandchildren.

Memorial service arrangements are pending. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Marine League Charities and the Arizona Greyhound Rescue League.

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