Age 82, and a lifelong resident of Gardner, Illinois, passed away Thursday August 11, 2022 at Heritage Health in Dwight.
Born January 10, 1940 in Morris, Illinois, Don was a son of Harold and Myrtle (Thompson) Jensen. He was raised in Gardner and attended Gardner Schools. On March 17, 1967 Don married Sandy Wilkey in Dwight, and together they had two children, Barbara in 1967 and Jodi in 1968.
During the 60's Don worked at Uniroyal in Elwood repairing typewriters and serving on the fire department. It was then in the 70's that he followed his passion for fire service working on the Fermilab Fire Department in Batavia. Every summer Don would also repair all the typewriters for the G.S.W. High School in his shop at home. The 80's took him to the Corps of Engineers as a Lockman, first in Starved Rock and then Dresden from where he retired in 2003. Not being one to sit around, Don soon found himself as a stock "boy" at Testa's in Coal City, and finally working at Fisher Auto Parts delivering until his REAL retirement in 2013 when he stopped working to care for his wife who had become sick.
Don, his dad Harold and brother Gene literally built the Gardner Fire Department from the ground up. He served on the fire department from 1958 until his retirement in 1999, serving as Chief from 1993-1999. This was a role Don truly loved doing while being of service to the community as a volunteer his whole career. In addition, Don also served as a Grundy County Deputy Coroner from 1966-2003.
Don's biggest enjoyment came from his two grandchildren, and attending every event while they were growing up. Later in life, Don's attention turned to cutting grass, whether you wanted your grass cut or not. Don was on it!! He loved to be on his John Deere, and more often than not his Best Friend Cuervo was on his lap while mowing! Don did love to go to the Dollar Store where he would spend hours chit-chatting and come out with maybe two things.
Don is survived by his daughter, Barb Jett; grandchildren: Lucas (Paige) Jett and Megan Jett, and his beloved great-granddaughter, Ivy Faye Jett. His best friends Cuervo and Red Head (Bailey) and his Granddogs Gypsy and Brandy.
Don is preceded in death by his wife Sandy in 2014, his parents, and daughter Jodi in 1969.
Since Don was a HUGE CUBS fan, please wear a CUBS shirt or very casual attire, he wasn't a fancy fella. Fire and EMS friends are also encouraged to wear attire representing their respective department.
In lieu of flowers preferred memorials should be to the Gardner Fire Protection District or to the family for distribution to charities of their choosing.
The family will receive friends for a visitation at Reeves Funeral Home, 230 Liberty Street in Gardner on Saturday, August 20, 2022 from 12:00 p.m. until time of the fireman walkthrough at 3:45 p.m. Funeral services will take place at 4:00 p.m. with past Jan Chandler officiating. Burial will follow in Braceville-Gardner Cemetery, where Don will be laid to rest with his late wife and daughter.
Pallbearers will be: Lucas Jett, Brian Jensen, John Hill, Tim Hill, Howard "Duck" Lardi and Jeff Bexson. Honorary pallbearers will be: Bob Coleman, Harold Holsinger and Ken Roeske.
Family and friends are encouraged to sign the guest book, upload photographs and share Don's memorial page online through social media.
Funeral services and arrangements have been made under the direction and care of Reeves Funeral Homes, Ltd. in Gardner. (815-237-2526) www.ReevesFuneral.com