Russell George Jensen

Russell George Jensen

MADISON – Russell George Jensen, age 94, passed away peacefully at home Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Russ (Bumpa, to friends and family) was born March 27, 1921, Easter Sunday in Minneapolis, Minn.

He was raised on a farm in Cushing, Wis., and confirmed at the Evangelical Lutheran Church. At 14, Russ ventured to California with a friend “hoboing” by railroad, working odd jobs along the way. In 1940, he returned to Wisconsin and worked at the Box Factory in Osceola.

Russ often visited Kyle’s Koffee Kup next door for lunch where he met the love of his life, Mae Norlander. They were married on June 28, 1942, by candlelight. They moved to Madison, where he was almost immediately drafted into the U.S. Army in November. Over the next 4 ½ years he served as a Platoon Sergeant under General Patton during World War II. Russ fought many battles across Central Europe and was one of many heroic people who liberated Dachau concentration camp. After finally returning to Madison March 14, 1946, Russ and Mae started their family, and had two daughters, Caryl and Connie. They were later blessed with two grandchildren, Derek and Chandra and ultimately a great-grandson, Cody.

As longtime east side residents, Russ worked for 16 years at the Kipp, followed by 30 years at C&P Grocery. He retired for two weeks in 1988, quickly bored, he worked at Gerhardt’s Drugs for another 12 years. Russ and Mae were active members of Bethel Lutheran Church for 51 years. They enjoyed many years of travel with family to Europe, Asia and Australia, taking many trips as ambassadors of the “Friendship Force,” a program created by President Carter.

Russ was an avid sports fan and often listened to games on his transistor radio. Other favorite activities included spending time with family, playing games, cards and reading. In 2011, accompanied by his granddaughter, he took the Badger Honor Flight to Washington, DC for surviving WWII Veterans. Russ is survived by his wife of 73 years, Mae; his two daughters, Caryl (Mike) Selchert and Connie Dreger; his two grandchildren, Derek Van Woelderen (Brent) and Chandra Kleinsmith; and his great-grandson and “Best Buddy”, Cody Kleinsmith.

He is pre-deceased by his parents; five sisters; four brothers; and many other relatives, including his son-in-law, Tom Dreger on Nov. 13, 2015. A Memorial Service will be held at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL HOME, 5203 Monona Dr., Madison, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday Feb. 23, 2016, with Pastor John Swanson presiding. Visitation will be held at the funeral Home from 1 p.m. until the time of the service on Tuesday. Memorials may be made to Bethel Lutheran Church or the American Heart Association. Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson East
Funeral & Cremation Care
5203 Monona Drive