Elaine Oldre Jensen
Elaine Geraldine Burmeister Oldre Jensen passed into paradise on Nov. 4, 2016. (Luke 23:43).
She was born June 19, 1927, in Pipestone, Minnesota. She had an older brother, Richard, a younger brother, Wayne, and younger twin sisters, Darlene and Arlene. As the eldest girl in the family she worked hard, both farming and with the household chores.
She married at age 19 to Oscar Oldre while he was serving in the military during World War II. Her first two children were born while she was a military wife and the next two while farming in Luverne. In the middle 1950s the family moved to Minneapolis, and it wasn’t long before the family was farming on some rented acreage located at the intersection of 36th Avenue North and Hwy 169 (then County Road 18). When the farm was sold for development, they relocated nearby, where Elaine started a new career selling Avon.
Elaine spent about 10 years as single parent and the Avon income became the main source of support. She worked hard visiting her customers in the morning, afternoon, and evening. She was one of the top Avon sales ladies in the country. In spite of her hectic work schedule she never missed one of her boys’ many sporting events.
Elaine was raised as a good Minnesota Lutheran and faithfully made sure all her children were confirmed in the Lutheran church. Later she confessed that something was missing. She wrote in her Memories book about growing up with memorized prayers said at mealtime and bedtime. She commented, “After praying one day at mealtime, I was confronted by a son about being a Lutheran because I was born a Lutheran. It gave me some ‘food for thought’ and I realized I did not really know that much about what the Bible said.”
When her boys were mostly grown, she decided to do something about her lack of Bible knowledge and her faith that had withered due to the pressures of raising and supporting her four boys. She organized a Bible study with another lady from church, which to her dismay ended up at her home with her leading it. Fortunately, she found another resource to help out, a Christian Singles Fellowship group organized by the Greater Minneapolis Association of Evangelicals (GMAE). It was there she met her second husband, Peter Jensen.
Together Peter and Elaine were involved in various ministries. They were the first house parents in a halfway house for ex-convicts called Damascus Way, a ministry of GMAE. With Peter’s encouragement Elaine took a distance learning Bible course from Moody Bible Institute. This helped her get a job with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGAE). There she worked in various positions over 20 years including responding to letters from frequent letter writers to Billy Graham. Her letters were carefully reviewed but they were always signed, “Billy.” When the Billy Graham Association moved from Minneapolis to North Carolina, she decided it was time to take the severance package, and Elaine retired in her 70s.
Elaine modeled and taught her boys a strong work ethic. She put the needs of others ahead of her own. She sacrificed for her boys and had compassion toward and ministered to people who were going through hard times. She sent a lot of birthday cards and they were always inscribed with a special Bible verse and loving comment. She cared about people, not material things.
She will be missed by her friends and family, but we rejoice with her as we know she looked forward to the day when she would go to her heavenly home.
She is survived by her sisters Darlene Johnson, Brooklyn Park, and Arlene Mann, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; her four sons and their wives, Eldon (Valerie) Oldre, Fort Myers, Florida, Randy (Bonnie) Oldre, Minneapolis, Dallas (Debbie) Oldre, Bloomington, and Clifford (Carla) Oldre, Maple Grove; her grandchildren, Eric and Elizabeth (and their mother Carolyn Oldre,) Vince, Christian, Brad, Brook, Tim and Jonathan; 18 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Arrangements were by Gearty-Delmore Funeral Chapel of Robbinsdale, www.gearty-delmore.com.