1941 – 2014
Howard Jensen, age 73, died December 13, 2014 at his home in Bloomington, Indiana. He was born November 12, 1941 in Salina, Utah, a son of Valton James and Veda Ann Jensen. He grew up in the tiny town of Redmond, Utah, where he saw a children’s theatre production during his early childhood. Ultimately, that experience lead him to pursue a career in theater. After receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Utah, he spent two years on active duty in the US Army. Subsequently, he received his M.A. from the University of California, Davis and his Ph.D. in Theatre from WayneStateUniversity, where he was an actor in the renown Hilberry Theatre. Howard joined the faculty of the Department of Theatre and Drama at IndianaUniversity, Bloomington in 1972. In 1976, he was appointed head of the department’s acting and Directing Program. The ultimate strength and national recognition of that program was due in no small measure to Howard Jensen’s leadership.
During his career at Indiana, Howard directed scores of plays including: A Streetcar Named Desire, that opened the new Brown County Playhouse in 1977; and Death Of A Salesman, that opened the Ruth Halls Theatre in 2001 in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and DramaCenter. Prior to joining the faculty at IndianaUniversity, he was an actor and founding member of the Utah Shakespearean Festival and later directed more than a dozen productions for the company. He was also a visiting director at such distinguished theatre festivals as the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. And, on occasion, he continued to work as an actor with the Indiana Repertory Theatre.
How’s numerous awards and honors are indicative of his impact on the theatre locally, regionally and nationally. In 1989 he was honored by Arts Indiana as a “State Arts Treasure”, in 2001 the Utah Shakespearean Festival named him one of the 40 most “illustrious persons who have illuminated our lives,” and in 2002 he received the Indiana University Trustee’s Teaching Award.
Howard will always be remembered as a talented artist and teacher by his students, colleagues, and long-time friends, both inside and outside IndianaUniversity. He died peacefully, thanks to Hospice and especially his care-giver/nurse Allison Tomusk.
He is survived by his brother, Dale and Carol Jensen; sisters: Beverly Markos, Donna Vee and Leland Sorensen; close friend, Julie Jensen, and the many theatre students who were inspired by his talent, dedication and love of theatre.
He is preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Valton Ross Jensen; three sisters and two brothers-in-law: Virginia Grendahl, Elaine and Sidney Safron, Doris and Wallace Caldwell and James Markos.
Contributions in Howard’s memory and in support of classical theatre may be made to the Howard Jensen Endowment Fund at the Indiana University Foundation.