I hate to again be a downer here amongst all of the fun that gets posted but I had to take a moment to pay homage to a great friend that has returned home to his Heavenly Father.
I first met Marshall when my family moved back to Utah to live in the Sugarhouse neighborhood of Salt Lake City where he lived just a few doors down from us. Much like me, he had a bunch of older brothers of similar ages so we sort of naturally were around each other. We spent a significant amount of time together at church events, scouting trips, and various other youth activities. Marshall always shed such a positive light wherever he was which was a characteristic that would stay with him throughout his life.
The vast majority of our time together was spent playing basketball at my next door neighbor’s house who seemed to have the only setup in the neighborhood. CrashDad and I would spend hours out there with Marshall and his brothers playing every different basketball game there is: 21, horse, 2 on 2, knockout, you name it, we would play it. Admittedly, he often drove me nuts when playing, but if I am being honest it was because he was better than me despite being younger and shorter. I was always impressed by his incredible drive and his ability to pursue his passions with everything he had.
He always refused to listen to someone telling him he couldn’t do something, and was determined to always give his best and exceed everyone’s expectations, though I don’t know that he ever exceeded his own (maybe with the one exception of finding his sweetheart Amanda who I am sure he would say was more amazing than he ever would have expected), because Marshall had this incredible vision of how great he truly was, even if other people didn’t see it at first. He never failed at showing the rest of us just how much we had underestimated him.
That would hold true throughout the final years of his life as he battled Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia for four long years.
It was tragic to hear about such a terrible disease striking such an amazing person, but I was endlessly impressed by the way he handled it. There was never talk of how much it sucked or how he was being robbed of a long life, only optimism and happiness. His wife referred to him as her “ballistic optimistic.” He spent his time lifting others and making memories with his beautiful wife and son. He shared his passion for music with everyone that would listen and refused to be put down by his own struggles. He was anxious to share his faith in Jesus Christ, and did so whenever he was given the chance.
I am sad to say that I hadn’t had much contact with Marshall since we left that Sugarhouse neighborhood and life got in the way, but it has been inspiring to watch him over the last few years. He lived more of a life in his 31 years than most people do in 70-80. He is an inspiration to be admired and emulated because that is what really mattered to Marshall. He always cared about other people, and not himself. Even when his face was paralyzed he drew a smiley face for himself so he could still smile for people who came into his room.
That is the Marshall I will always remember. He had the most intoxicating smile that would drive me nuts on the basketball court, but that couldn’t help but bring a smile to your own face when looking at him. I’m pretty sure it comes from his mother because she has the exact same smile. (Speaking of his angel of a mother, Lucile is every bit as inspiring. In the days following the loss of her son she has continued to support other people who are struggling with cancer and other diseases. She refuses to let this tragedy stop her from living which is just the way Marshall would want it.)
We never truly know the impact we have on other people’s lives, and I don’t know if we ever fully realize the impact other people have on our lives. Marshall Jensen was an inspiration for thousands of people all over the country, and likely the world, but for me he will always be my smiling friend from the basketball court.
If you knew Marshall I would love to hear your memories of him in the comments which I will gladly pass on to his family.
After the service, interment will be at Mountain View Memorial Estates Cemetery, 3115 E 7800 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84121
If you would like to learn more about Marshall or support his wife and son the following links will provide that opportunity.
Marshall’s Music on iTunes He can also be found on Spotify by searching for his name.
The Headstrong Foundation played a major role in the final years of Marshall’s life. They are an amazing foundation that tries to “improve the quality of life of those affected by cancer.” Since 2006 they have helped more than 12,000 patients and their families. Spend a little time on their site and you will see how amazing they are.
The Marshall Jensen Memorial Fund or The Marshall and Amanda Family Trust at any Wells Fargo Bank. You may also contribute to a college fund for his Kezman by donating to the “Marshall Jensen Memorial” account at Mountain American Credit Union.
A Forever Gift for AJ is a gift that the wife of Marshall’s younger brother is trying to create for Marshall’s wife.
T-Shirts and sweatshirt with the slogan “Get Up and Marshall On” They look pretty sweet and support a great cause.