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It was a beautiful, cold, and somewhat breezy day as I drove to the gates of Forest Lawn and stopped at the kiosk to inquire about the whereabouts of the Old North Church. The directions and a map were provided and I drove through the middle of acres of rolling grass covered hills dotted with memorial potted and arranged flowers placed at many of the gravesites. The red brick church, it turns out is a replica of the one where lanterns were hung in the tower to signal the arrival of the British troops in Boston at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The billowy white clouds provided a spectacular backdrop for the coming event, the celebration of the lives and a memorial services and internment of Russ Jensen and his wife.
There were four of us, pinball friends; Don Mueting, Sam Harvey, Tom Rader, and I, in a group of about 50 people who came to say goodbye. We joined the family and after introductions, I presented a notebook to each of his children. In the notebook I had gathered and printed many of the on line comments, tributes, and memorials that came from our community about Russ. I thought since most of the family is not into pinball machines they would miss all of the wonderful sentiment, thoughts, and well wishes that came from the various groups and individuals, who had expressed their feelings so eloquently on line.
The services were a celebration of the lives of Russ and his wife. There were very nice photos of them draped in beautiful flowers at the front of the church. The pastor read briefly from the scriptures and then a large screen video unit was moved to the front of the church and a DVD of many old family photos was played with an accompanying sound track of player piano music (a love of Russ's prior to pinball) and other recordings of family generated music. After the conclusion of the CD an invitation was issued to anyone who wished to speak. All of the children and one grand child spoke about their family. The granddaughter had looked through some family things and found several Birthday and Valentine cards exchanged between Russ and his wife and read them aloud. This was a very touching display of the devoted feeling between two people very much in love.
We were then invited to follow the family and observe the internment.
Tom Rader (Pinball Tom whom resides in Bakersfield) had sent me the following e-mail earlier in the week. I have edited the message to simplify the content:
I know that Russ sold most all of his Pin collection in the past 5-10 years, but was wondering if he had any pins left. The last or only game he may have left was his beloved classic Genco Metro woodrail from the 40's. Might make a nice memorial if that game were on permanent display to commemorate a pioneer in the pinball hobby.
I discussed this with Don and Sam and both agreed that this would be a very nice tribute to Russ. I spoke to Kathy (Russ's daughter) and explained to her that we would like to do a online fund raising activity to try and raise $500 for Meto and place it and a photo of Russ as a tribute to all of Russ's contributions to our hobby/community. She was eager and willing to do this.
The donors, amounts, and total raised can be viewed at Google docs:http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pIkKAH-AMszRL9buWydOYOA
In order to get this fundraising activity underway as quickly as possible, I have volunteered to collect the monies and pass them onto the family. You may mail checks to my home address at:
3568 Inglewood Blvd.
Or you may use my Paypal account (I will pay any fees to ensure that your total contribution will be made to the family.):
I will try and up date the spreadsheet on a daily basis so you can see your contribution and know it has been received. Please include your name so I can identify who made the donation. The memorial including the picture of Russ will hopefully include the names of those who helped make it possible.
I know this money will assist the family in renovating Russ's house. And, make a wonderful enduring tribute to Russ. Thanks in advance for whatever contribution you can afford to donate to establish this memorial.
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Last updated 3/22/2017