In Memory of
John Marlowe Jensen, Senior
Born on November 21st, 1929 in
Minneapolis Minnesota, to John and Ruth Jensen
Died in Fargo North Dakota on
June 13th, 2003
Interned at Oak Grove Cemetery in
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.
He is survived by his daughters,
Anita Ramsey and Lorie Olson
His three sons, John M. Jensen
Jr., Tom Jensen and Adam Jensen
His sisters, Muriel Gustafson and
And his brother, Kenneth Jensen
He was preceded in death by his
parents, John and Ruth and his daughter, Helen Francis
About John Jensen
John began carving in 1938 at the age
of 9 years old. In the beginning he only carved animals, then from 1950 to
1957 he began making a few fish decoys. In 1983 he was actively carving
fish decoys again after a few years off.
All of John's fish decoys are hand carved with a knife and all are
hand brush painted, primarily using oils. He is one of the few remaining
carvers still using these traditional techniques. John made more than 700
fish decoys during his career, averaging about 35 decoys per year.
At the time of his death, there was more than a 4 year waiting list
for John's fish decoys. This waiting list has affected the value of his
existing fish decoys. His death will surely increase the value of his
decoys. As of June 2003, his decoys of about 10" length are trading at
$450 to $850. Longer decoys such as his 23" Northern Pike trade between
$2,700 and $3,500. Rare one-of-a kind fish decoys trade at $4,500 or more.
His handcrafted fishing lures trade from $200 to $350 each.
Highlights of John's Carving
John was a humble, quiet, kind and thoughtful man. He
never talked about his achievements. He was an artist, a fish decoy carver
and a teacher.
Indeed, he needed some convincing to make his NFDA carver web site.
Even then he only listed some of his awards and accomplishments.
Many more remain unlisted, now probably forgotten forever.
It is worth highlighting some of his Major Awards, Memberships
and Accomplishments here since the very size of the list
in the following section, blurs the individual items.
* The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. displays
his fish decoys.
* His name is registered in the MN State Arts Board Folk Art Directory.
* With the MN State Art Board, he began the Fish Decoy Carving
* He is a Charter Member of the National Fish Decoy Association.
* A Charter Member of the Minnesota Fishing Federation Carver League.
* And a member of the Minnesota Dark House Spearing Association,
Detroit Lakes Chapter.
* Instrumental in beginning the 'The Gathering' - home of the
John Jensen National Fish Decoy Competition and the
National Sporting Collectibles show.
John Jensen's Awards
John has a stack of awards.
The following is only a small portion of that list of awards!
2002 - The World Championships of Spearing and Fish
Decoys featured a John Jensen northern, along with signature, on it's
inaugural pin back button, with only 200 being produced.
2002 - The National Fish Decoy Association (NFDA) features a John Jensen
trout on it's inaugural pin back button. The button bears his decoy, and
signature. Only 200 of the collectible buttons were produced.
2002 - West Acres Mall, Fargo N.D., adds a permanent display of some of
the rarest Jensen decoys as a Mall attraction.
2002 - Featured front page in Frazee Forum.
2002 - Appears in National Advertising for Recluse Lake Lodge, Manitoba,
2002 - Awarded a plague from In The News for his OUTDOOR LIFE cover
2002 - Featured on the front cover of OUTDOOR LIFE , and featured inside
for Fish of The Year. John's Manitoba northern was chosen from hundreds of
2002 - Feature article in Sporting Classics on his Recluse Lake fishing
trip using only his handmade fishing lures.
2001 - Featured article in Hunting & Fishing Collectibles National
2001 - Featured in the Minnesota Sportsman's Magazine.
2001 - Received the Master Angler Award from Manitoba, Canada, for a 42.5"
long northern pike he caught on a promotional fishing trip to Recluse Lake
Lodge on the Little Churchill River in northern Manitoba. On this trip he
only used his hand made fishing lures.
2001 - Featured in the Lakes Area Magazine.
2000 - John was one of 4 featured Mn fish decoy carvers in a PBS
documentary video called Folkart Beneath The Ice, which is still airing
nationally on local PBS stations.
2000 - Carol Tappe, Minnesota wildlife artists introduces the second in a
series of limited edition prints featuring John's decoys, called,
2000 - Featured in the Minnesota Sportsman Magazine.
2000 - Received the first "Living Legend Award" from his peers at THE
GATHERING 2000 banquet.
2000- John was instrumental in starting a National Sporting Collectibles
Show called THE GATHERING and started the JOHN JENSEN NATIONAL FISH DECOY
1999 - The Minnesota State Historical Society filmed a two day video about
John and bought his fish decoys to display in the State Museum. The video
can be viewed at the Museum.
1999 - Awarded a certificate from the Minnesota State Arts Board and
Governor Jesse Ventura as the Minnesota State Arts Leader.
1998 - Minnesota Darkhouse Association decoy contest awards - 1st in Most
Collectible class, - 1st in Working Fish Decoy, - Minnesota Decoy Carver
of the Year Award
1998 - Les Kouba, a Minnesota famous wildlife artist, was working on a
series of paintings featuring John Jensen's decoys . Unfortunately, Les
passed away before the project could be completed.
1998- Carol Tappe, Minnesota wildlife artists features John's decoys in a
winter fishing scene limited edition print called Winter Ritual.
1997 - Held a fish decoy carving demonstration at the University of
1995 - Featured in January / February issue of Decoy Magazine.
1995 - Awarded a plaque made from an article on the front page of the
Fargo Forum by U.S. News.
1995 - Invited to the Smithsonian Institute.
1994 - Featured in the National Fishing Lure Collecting Club Newsletter.
1994 - Featured in the Country Times Newspaper.
1992 - Featured decoy carver at the Northern Lakes Decoy Collectors Show.
1991 and 1992 - invited to Show and Demonstrate Fish Decoy Carving at the
Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center in Moorhead Minnesota.
1989 - Featured in the State Arts Board News.
1989 - Commissioned to carve five fish decoys for the Brainerd Regional
Service Center's new building.
1989 - Appeared on WCCO TV in Minneapolis.
1989 - Demonstrated fish decoy carving at the Minnesota State Fair. Again,
sponsored by the Minnesota State Arts Board.
1988 - Featured in the Folk Life Newspaper.
1988 - Showed and demonstrated , How to Carve a Fish Decoy, at Fort Ripley
State Park. This event was a sponsored by the Minnesota State Arts Board.
1987 - John and the Minnesota State Arts Board started the first Fish
Decoy Apprenticeship Program.