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Ethel Doris Johnson
(May 29, 1911 - December 8, 2012)

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Ethel Doris Johnson

Ethel Jenson, 101 years of age of Challis passed away on Saturday, December 8, 2012 in Salmon, Idaho. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at the Jones & Casey Funeral Home in Challis at 2:00 p.m. with viewing one hour before services. Burial rites will be provided by the Florence Chapter #79 Order of Eastern Star and burial in the Challis Cemetery. Ethel was born May 29, 1911 in Clayton, Idaho. Her parents, Thomas and Mable Howell ranched in Clayton, Chilly, East Fork and Challis, where her dad was sheriff in his later years. Her father also ran wagons that were pulled by no less than 12 horses from the many ore mines around Custer County. Ethel spent most of her growing up years in Challis. Her first real job was at the Bay Horse boarding house, when she was just 12 years old. She washed dishes for the cook, and because she was small she had to stand on an apple box to reach the sink. She washed the dishes three times a day and earned enough money to buy her first store bought coat from Sears Roebuck, a the cost of $13.00., she said it was the prettiest shade of blue with fake fur, and she loved it. The family moved to the Livingston Mine and she attended school in a tent-school with homemade desks, three students in all. She graduated from the eighth grade. Next she went to work at a boarding house at the mine, where seventy five men were employed. Her work started at 5:30 a.m. She helped put food on the table, then washed the dishes, peeled potatoes needed for the day, then spent the rest of the day helping Mrs. Walker with her housework. The family moved to Challis and she decided to attended beauty school in Pocatello, Idaho. After graduating, she returned to Challis and opened up a small beauty shop in her mother’s living room charging $2.50 for perms. It was the depression, and women could not afford professional hair care, so she closed shop and went back to work in Pocatello. She married Walter (Buck) Barrett Jenson on April 4, 1933 in Challis, Idaho. They were married 73 years until his death in 2006. They had three children: Afton LaVonne, Warren Walter and Charles Thomas. The families first home was a one room cabin he built near his parents place of business, The Jenson Hotel and Cabins, with logs that were purchased for firewood. This cabin is still being lived in today. Ethel spent six summers in her early years of marriage, in a tent in the forest, with 2 children, while he was building road for the United States Forest Service. In 1940 the couple bought a small service station at the Y Intersection of Challis. This was the beginning of Jenson Oil and Bulk Oil Plant. Later they expanded and purchased Mid-state Transport and Spredder Specialist. After a very successful 40 years they sold Jenson Oil Company, and their other business’ were not sold until 1992, when Walter had his 83rd birthday. At one time she and Walter were part owners of five different corporations. Ethel was always an integral part of the community. She joined the Rebekah Lodge at an early age and served in all the stations, including as Noble Grand a second time when she was 80 years old. She was also a life time member of the Florence #79 Eastern Star of which she was Worthy Matron at the same Walter was Worthy Parton. She was one of the sponsors of Theta Rho, her daughter LaVonne was their president. She was a life time member of the Florence Chapter #79 Eastern Star. She was chosen Grand Marshall of the 4th of July parade in Challis, was a Mayors wife and a member of the LDS Church. She also was a founding member of the Hub, and an original member of the GT-Get Together Club. She loved to play Pinochle and Bridge and won The Best Bridge Player trophy on a cruise while on a trip to the Panama Canal. She learned to ski at Chipmunk Hill, taught 4-H, and loved to bowl. She had several “over 200” games, with her team winning first place at the State tournament when she was just 75. She was an enthusiastic supporter of High School Athletics. She is survived by daughter LaVonne (Ralph) Bartschi of Meridian, Idaho; son, Warren (JaVoan) Jenson of Challis, Idaho; ten grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren, 11 great-great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by husband Walter “Buck” Jenson; son Charles “Chuck” Jenson; parents Thomas and Mable Howell. Arrangements by Jones & Casey Funeral Home of Challis, Idaho.


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