Obituary: Sarah Jensen, 68, of Ludington

December 29, 2022

Sarah Jensen

Obituary: Sarah Jensen, 68, of Ludington

Just a few months after realizing her dream to return to Michigan for retirement, Sarah A. Jensen died of natural causes at her home in Ludington. 

Born May 19, 1954, to Viggo and Aletha Jensen, Sarah grew up in Victory Township where, encouraged by her book-loving and free-thinking family, she developed an early and marked talent for reading and writing. Before she was 10-years-old, Sarah announced to her family that becoming an author was to be her life’s ambition. 

While writing stories, poems, plays and situation comedy television scripts at home, Sarah excelled in academics at school. In 1972, during her senior year at Mason County Central High School, Sarah received the Cox Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in English and Literature. She graduated from West Shore Community College in 1975 and that institution later honored her with a Distinguished Alumni Award. She earned a bachelor of science degree in anthropology from Michigan State University in 1977. 

Sarah held a variety of jobs – from historical interpreter at White Pine Village to law firm librarian in East Lansing to audio transcriptionist in Boston – but the needle of her compass always led her back to her personal True North: writing. 

Poetry was Sarah’s passion. Her poems appeared in many publications, and she was a member of several poets’ and writers’ groups in Michigan and Massachusetts. She was an active figure in Boston’s literacy world, founding and then publishing the journal, atelier, in the 1980s. Some of her works were selected to be part of the “Poetry on the T” project when poetry was displayed inside train cars and stations throughout Boston’s public transportation system. 

Returning to Michigan in 2001, Sarah worked as a writer and editor at the Ludington Daily News where she brought her acute eye for detail, her sensitivity, and her extraordinary talent as a wordsmith to all manner of news and feature articles. In 2004, her work in public service reporting was recognized with an award from the Michigan Associated Press. Her weekly column, Against the Current, which she continued to write for several years after returning to Boston, celebrated local happenings and the news of the world, and often included treasured memories. 

Sarah was the author of two published books. She collaborated with long-time friend and musician Maynard James Keenan on his life story, A Perfect Union of Contrary Things, which debuted at #10 on the New York Times Bestseller list in 2016 and has since been translated into several languages. Her second book, West Shore Community College: the First Fifty Years, was published in 2018. The book is equal parts hymn to the land which had once belonged to her family and an in-depth chronicle of the college’s first half-century. At the time of her death, Sarah was at work on a biography of American author Ethel Parton.

Sarah was fiercely independent, remarkably resilient, enormously creative, and implacably exacting. She walked down shadowed paths at times, but through her craft she illuminated a world for herself and others that celebrated the meaning and the poetry that can be found in every moment: in the painful, in the playful, in the mundane, and in the magnificent. 

Sarah did not suffer fools gladly, but she inspired countless people to embrace and use their individual talents to the utmost – and she always insisted on the proper use of the comma in the process. 

Easily moved to tears, Sarah could also laugh harder and longer than anyone else we’ll ever know. Working in solitude, she completed some of the most complicated knitting projects ever conceived. She will also be remembered for bringing people together for stimulating conversation, research discussions, or for the delights of a holiday meal. Sarah always encouraged guests to invite “holiday orphans” to her table, extending her hand and heart to folks who otherwise would have spent the day alone. Put simply, Sarah fostered space for us to tell stories together. 

Carl Sandburg defined poetry as “the arithmetic of the easiest way and the primrose path, matched up with foam-flanked horses, bloody knuckles, and bones on the hard ways to the stars.” These words describe his fellow poet, Sarah Jensen, as well. 

Sarah was preceded in death by her parents and her beloved aunt and mentor, Harriet Reeves. She is survived by her brother, Kjiirt; her niece, Dakota; her sister, Sue Ellen; her brother-in-law, Steve Henricks; her sole-surviving aunt, Virginia Schumann; dozens of cousins and their descendants and hundreds of dear friends. 

No memorial services are planned at this time. Those wishing to remember Sarah with a memorial contribution may consider making a donation to the family earmarked for the Sarah A. Jensen Literary Scholarship Fund, soon to be established in her memory. Arrangements have been entrusted to Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington, www.oakgroveludington.com. 

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Editor’s Note: In the spring of 2022, MCP featured Sarah in a series of Mason County Central alumni stories. Her knowledge and passion for Mason County, especially Scottville, will be missed. The feature story about Sarah can be read here:

Sarah Jensen, the art of writing

In addition, Sarah wrote several of the other stories that were included in the alumni series. Links to here work are listed here:

Maynard James Keenan: rock star, vintner, entrepreneur, Spartan

Harold Cronk, filmmaker, artist, writer, entrepreneur 

Coach Schulte, leading MCC school board into the 21st century

Melanie Weaver Barnett, leading business leaders

Kevin Eikenberry: Teaching leadership skills that began at MCC

Edgar Struble, MCC music teachers inspired a career in entertainment

 

 

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