July 7, 2006
Irving F. and Carolyn “Tigger” Jensen, Jr. longtime residents of Sioux City, have made the naming gift for Morningside College’s new softball complex and Bass Field renovation.
They also made a special gift in honor of their granddaughter, Nancy Nicole Bekins-Kent, who graduated from Morningside in May.
The couple has named the complex the Elizabeth and Irving Jensen Softball Complex, in honor of Irving Jensen, Jr.’s parents, who died in 1997 and 1990, respectively. Other Jensen family members who have made significant contributions towards the project include his brothers and their wives, Colin and Pokey Jensen, of Sioux City; Erik and Mary Jensen, Franktown, Colo.; and Mark and Kay Jensen, Sioux City; and his sister and her husband, Susan and Sherman Wollesen, Lawton, Iowa. Contributions have also been made by Irving and “Tigger” Jensen, Jr’s children, Mia O’Malley, Jackson, Wyo.; Juliana Mayne, Sioux City; Nancy Kent, Sioux City; Carolyn Bender, Dallas, Texas; and Irving F. Jensen III, Dakota Dunes, S.D.
Irving Jensen, Jr. said, “Our family welcomes this opportunity to honor our parents and support Morningside College. My mother was a Morningside graduate, and the college has meant a lot to our family. It has benefited countless students during it first 100 years and will continue to do so during its second 100 years. We are proud to be part of that legacy.”
The Bass Field project carries a price tag of more than $400,000. The softball complex will feature an Agri-Lime infield, and sod will be planted on the outfield. Other improvements to be made include the installation of fencing, concrete block dugouts, a public address (PA) system, and stadium seating for 400, as well as the construction of a two-story press box behind the backstop.
Additionally, the football practice area north of the softball complex will be reseeded, and sprinkler systems will be installed in both the softball and football fields. Bass Field is in the center of the aerial photo to the right.
The softball complex will be completed in time for the spring 2007 season.
Morningside College President John Reynders said, “One of the reasons that Morningside is such a strong institution today is because of the Jensen family. Their continued support will enable us to build a first-rate softball complex for our students. On behalf of everyone here, I would like to thank them for their generous contribution—and for their faith in Morningside College.”
Irving and Elizabeth Jensen, Sr. were longtime supporters of the college. Elizabeth Jensen graduated from Morningside in 1954. Irving Jensen, Sr. was awarded the Order of Morningside and the honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering by Morningside in 1976. He served as a member of Morningside’s board of directors from 1957 to 1976 and was vice chair of the board from 1970 to1976. He was the chair of the college’s 1965 fundraising campaign.
Irving Jensen, Jr. served on the college’s board of directors from 1988 to 2000 and was chair of the board for the 1993-94 academic year. He is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of the family-related companies that employ 500 to 600 persons. He served as chairman, secretary-treasurer, and director of Irving F. Jensen Co., Inc., Brower Construction, Castle Rock Construction Company, and Jebro, Inc. He is president of the Orpheum Theatre Preservation Project, Ltd., and was a member of the board of the Woodbury County Courthouse Preservation Committee.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial administration from the School of Engineering at Yale University and served in the U.S. Air Force from November 1954 through November 1956. In 2003, Morningside awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
Colin Jensen served as president of Irving F. Jensen Co., Inc., in Sioux City. Erik Jensen, who served on Morningside’s board of directors from 1981 to1986, is president of Castle Rock Construction Company headquartered in Castle Rock, Colo. Mark Jensen is president of Standard Ready Mix Concrete Company in Sioux City.
The Jensen family’s contributions are in response to Morningside’s capital campaign “This is Our Moment” and in support of the $750,000 challenge grant that The Kresge Foundation awarded the college in March. The college must raise a total of $6 million for the renovation of the Olsen Student Center, the building of the softball complex, and Phase II of the campus master plan by June 1, 2007, in order to meet the foundation’s challenge. Over $4 million in pledges or gifts towards these projects, including the Jensen gift, have already been raised