Kenny Jenson
Kenny Jenson
Kenny Jenson
Kenny Jenson
Kenny Jenson
Kenny Jenson

Obituary of Kenny Reid Jenson

Kenny Reid Jenson passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by family, on March 12, 2024, at the age of 91.


Kenny is survived by his wife of over 68 years, Marilyn; their three children, Tim Jenson, Lori Kent (Mark Kent) and Kathy Gardner (Paul Gardner); along with four wonderful grandchildren, Christopher Hall, Kenny Lockwood, Lydia Gardner and Joseph Gardner. He is also survived by his younger brother, Larry Jenson, and many nieces and nephews. He was an amazing husband, father, and grandfather. He loved every one of us deeply. His family was everything to him.


Preceding Kenny in death were his parents, Hank and Wanda Jenson; his sister, Vivian, and her husband, Ted; his brother, Ronnie; and his oldest brother and lifelong best friend, Gale. 


Kenny was born on August 20, 1932, in Boise, Idaho. In 1943, his family moved to Tumwater, Washington, where his father, Henry “Hank” Jenson, purchased a little country store. It was at the corner of Israel Road and Littlerock Road in Tumwater, affectionately known as Hank’s Corner. Kenny graduated from Olympia High School in 1951. Kenny and Gale met Walt Willows and Marty Wicklund in high school and became fast friends. The four were inseparable for many years and remained lifelong friends. Unfortunately, Walt passed away more than 20 years ago. 


Kenny joined the Air Force soon after he graduated from high school. During his enlistment in the USAF, he spent time at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, where he worked on communication lines. He was later stationed at Naselle Air Force Station (Radar Ridge) in Naselle, Washington. He met the love of his life, Marilyn Jean Wilson, at Mary’s, which was her brother Ralph's restaurant in Long Beach, while he was working on Mary’s car. He asked to drive Marilyn home but her father insisted that her brother drive them both instead. 


Kenny was injured in an accident one night in February 1955, when he drove off an embankment while on his way to visit Marilyn in Ilwaco, Washington. He managed to climb out of the car and then crawl up the embankment to the road, before realizing that he hadn’t turned the headlights on so that someone driving by would see them. He crawled back down the embankment to the car, turning on the lights before crawling to the road once again-all with a broken back! He was fortunate that a nurse happened to be the first person to spot the wreckage. She stayed and cared for him until help arrived. He and Marilyn grew closer while he was recuperating in the hospital in a body cast. The rest, as they say, is history. They were married in Ilwaco, Washington, on June 25, 1955. After they married, Marilyn became close friends with Walt and Phyllis Willows and Marty and Marlene Wicklund, and spent time together frequently over the years. 


From 1959 to 1986, Kenny, Hank and Gale started a family business called Capitol Auto Parts. The auto parts/salvage yard was successful and they all worked well together. Each of Kenny's children had a car rebuilt for them as soon as they were old enough to drive. He retired before he turned 50 and spent many years just being a great husband and father full time. After he retired, he continued to rebuild cars in his home shop.


For many years, Capitol Auto Parts sponsored a bowling team. Kenny would spend many Tuesday evenings bowling and drinking beer with Hank, Gale and Larry, along with his friends Walt Willows and Marty (Elmer) Wicklund. As time went by, the team members changed but they continued sponsoring the team for many years. They also sponsored a basketball team for several years.


Kenny and Marilyn would celebrate every anniversary by going to Reno, starting in 1966. They also loved going to Spirit Mountain Casino, Chinook Winds Casino Resort, and Quinault Beach Resort and Casino. After he could no longer drive long distances, he and Marilyn would go to the local casinos for lunch or breakfast every week with family and friends.


Kenny’s hobbies and interests were, first and foremost, being with his family. He built a camper, and the whole family enjoyed going camping, salmon fishing, and hunting with him. He passed along his love of the outdoors to his family. He loved hunting deer and elk, as well as pheasant and duck. He loved going crabbing with his nephew, Terry Adams, and his family. He especially enjoyed taking his grandkids. After crabbing, everyone would go over to his sister Vivian’s house to cook all the crab before they were taken home for dinner. When the weather was nice enough, he and his brothers would go golfing in the morning before they went to work. Another one of Kenny's favorite pastimes was watching Seattle Mariners games. There would be lots of cheering phone calls and commiserating during each and every game.


Kenny had a wonderful sense of humor and always had family and friends cracking up. He loved making up his own words to whatever song was playing at the time. Of course, his lyrics were usually not appropriate for the public! 


Kenny was known as a jokester and a goofball, but he was also a great listener. He always wanted to hear what was going on in your life. You could tell that you really mattered to him. He was very supportive and genuine with his grandkids. He treated everyone as his peer, regardless of their age. It was nice to be listened to in that way; he made you feel like he really cared about what you had to say.


He was a wonderful friend as well. He had one friend who was arrested for drunk driving on multiple occasions, and he would call Kenny in the middle of the night to bail him out. Kenny always did. 


Kenny could figure out how to build anything. In the late ‘70s, he and Marilyn, with the help of family and friends, built their own home. They would spend 45 years together in that house. He taught his children how to be self-sufficient and to be able to work on their own homes and cars. His guidance and support will be missed.


Thanks to all the family and friends who helped out while Kenny’s health was declining. Kenny’s niece, Tammy Danmeyer, and her husband, Bill, were an amazing help and can’t be thanked enough. There were some part time caregivers but most of the care was done by Marilyn, with the help of Tim, Kathy, Paul, Lori, and Mark, as well as Tammy and Bill. Assured Hospice was an invaluable resource. While they were only with Kenny for a short time, they had a great impact. Everyone that came to the house from hospice was caring, respectful, and knowledgeable. They were a huge help to Kenny as well as the rest of the family.


Kenny was a wonderful man. His family and friends feel so blessed to have had him in their lives for so long.  


If you would like to make a donation in Kenny’s honor, Senior Services for South Sound was a great help to both Kenny and Marilyn. You may donate online by clicking HERE, or checks may be mailed to Senior Services for South Sound, 222 Columbia St. NW, 2nd Floor, Olympia, WA 98501.


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