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Ron Jensen’s enjoyable and productive retirement

September 29, 2012
By C. Paul Martin, M.D. , Marshall Independent

Attention: all retirees, contemporary and potential participants!

Marshall and Milroy residents remember Ron Jensen as a Milroy farm boy who became a prominent Marshall businessman, serving on the staff and then as the administrator of the Louis J. Weiner Memorial Hospital (now the Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center) and a tireless promoter of the Marshall medical community from 1959 to 1998, a period of dramatic transition, growth, and advancement of health care in the city. Ron presided over the development of the 1950s Marshall Hospital from a small city facility to a modern regional medical center associated with a family practice-based ambulatory care clinic (now Affiliated Community Medical Center-Marshall) complemented by a medical specialty clinic (Avera Specialty Clinic).

The present Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center, and to some extent, ACMC, owe their existence and prominence to people like Ron and his peers who served as board members and to supporters of the medical community in those times of Marshall's rapid growth.

I had the opportunity to meet with Ron during a recent visit to Marshall. He was on his way to Sioux Falls, S.D., to see his family, and he took the opportunity to tour the city and review some of the projects in which he was involved. Ron came to the Weiner Memorial Hospital in 1959, and one of his first responsibilities was the "chronic and convalescent hospital" on south Fourth Street, formerly Dr. Grey's Marshall Hospital, and the first nursing home in Marshall. It was replaced by the Louis Weiner Memorial Nursing Home which was built attached to the hospital in 1963; it was recently remodeled as the Morningside Heights Care Center. As Marshall grew in size following the establishment of the college, Ron helped to improve medical care and attract more physicians by the establishment of the new Weiner Memorial Hospital and Clinic in 1977.

Some years later, Ron promoted the idea of congregate housing, and Hill Street Place was built by Bob Carr. As in most businesses, continued improvement and renovation was initiated by Ron and the board. Related services such as home care, Prairie Home Hospice, and the Hospital Auxiliary and its Thrift Shop were supported by Ron and the hospital administration. He even served as coordinator of the auxiliary volunteers after his retirement - an exciting challenge!

Ron and his wife Char moved to Park Rapids on Fishhook Lake in the logging area of Minnesota near Itasca State Park in 2000. He became active in Faith Baptist Church and has served in its mission trips to Finland, Poland, Spain, Italy, and Canada.

His friends in Park Rapids encouraged him to help with area government; thus he serves as chairman of the Todd Township Planning Commission. Since the area is rural, he has developed an interest in 4-wheel all-terrain vehicles, and now is president of the Forest Riders ATV Club.

However, Ron's main activity and avocation is the support of the Bluebird and Purple Martin Recovery Program. He and others in the activity have worked successively to increase the population of the birds and their health by building, maintaining, and caring for the nesting birds in the bird houses of the area. The story has been a model of improvement for the birds and the role of lay persons working with the DNR.

Ron's wife, Char, worked at the medical laboratory of St. Joseph's Hospital in Park Rapids until her retirement earlier this year. However, she still maintains a presence in the laboratory to help the staff.

It certainly seems as if Ron and Char are enjoying the type of retirement we all wish for ourselves. Their present life in Park Rapids and the continuing effects of their time in Marshall serve both as a reminder and a stimulus to us in our daily lives.



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