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Herman A. 'Herm' Jensen, businesman and Petaluma 'Leghorn,' dead at 86

Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 6:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 6:40 p.m.

Herman A. “Herm” Jensen came from a time when a good name and a strong handshake started lasting friendships and business relationships.

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Herman A. Jensen

Jensen, a lifelong resident of Petaluma, died Feb. 27 at the Golden Living Center convalescent hospital in Petaluma. He was 86.

When his father emigrated from Copenhagen, Denmark, he embraced American culture, joining several service groups and developing relationships.

“So when my dad went out on his own, and even through school, he was well known,” said Craig Jensen of his father. “The good name my grandfather established, my dad benefitted from.

“He honored being a Jensen.”

Jensen was born, raised and educated in Petaluma, graduating from Petaluma High School in 1944. After graduation, he immediately enlisted in the Navy and served in the Pacific during WWII. He served on a supply ship that delivered food and goods to troops in the Philippines.

After returning home in 1946, Jensen began working for his father in the family's Coca-Cola Bottling and distribution company in Petaluma.

Ten years later, he went out on his own, founding the L&F Distribution Company, which distributed beer and wine in and around Sonoma County for over 20 years.

“Serving the public was, to him, not a job, but serving friends who he'd made through the years,” Craig Jensen said.

Shop owners on his route enjoyed his visits, said his son, who occasionally accompanied him.

“Everyone wanted to spend time with him. They looked forward to him coming to the store that day,” said Craig Jensen. “I often wondered how many of them we were related to; they seemed like family.”

Jensen was a founding member of the Petaluma Leghorns, a semi-pro football team. He played for the Leghorns from 1946 until 1953, mostly as a defensive player.

An old program he kept showed Jensen as a 6-foot, 180-pounder. Three days after his son was born, the Leghorns won a game in Santa Rosa and the entire team signed a game ball to honor the birth.

Keeping physically fit remained a priority through his life. He ran half-marathons into his early 60s and participated in a 100-mile bicycle race to Pescadero.

Like his father, Jensen valued his friendships. He remained pals with some of the other original Leghorns and school chums. They formed a lunch group called the “Birthday Boys,” that met monthly at Petaluma restaurants and celebrated their birthdays.

He also was a member of the VFW Post 1929, the Danish Brotherhood #143 and a life member of the Elks Lodge #901. He helped distribute toys to needy children at Christmas and meals for less fortunate families at Thanksgiving. “He just gave and gave. He was a very humble man,” his son said.

In addition to his son, Jensen is survived by daughters Janice Frym of Petaluma and Lori Stewart of Arizona; six grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; his friend and former wife, Marilyn Jensen; his companion of more than 20 years, Bertha “Bert” Balfour of Petaluma; and and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held March 10 at 1 p.m. at Parent-Sorensen Mortuary and Crematory. Private entombment will be at Cypress Hill Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Petaluma, or the Boys and Girls Club of Petaluma.

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