The dark wool pinstriped suit and silk tie of the lawyer could keep you from recognizing the Huntsville, Utah, farmer in Marlin K. Jensen. But once he places his strong, square hand in yours, tells you about the family farm where he and his wife, Kathleen, are rearing their eight children, growing vegetables, and breeding and caring for livestock, you begin to know the man.
“I love farming and life on a farm, so I practice law in order to be able to live this way,” he confesses.
Elder Jensen, who has been called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, says Huntsville is “home to five generations of Jensens. I love it here. But I will do what the Lord wants of me. He has blessed us so much.”
Marlin Keith Jensen was born 18 May 1942 to Keith Grow and Lula Hill Jensen. When he was twenty-eight and just out of law school, Brother Jensen was called to be bishop of the Huntsville Ward, as had been his father and grandfather before him. Later, he served as a priests quorum adviser, then as a stake president, and most recently as a Regional Representative.
“I love the Lord, love people, and know how to work hard,” Elder Jensen says. “Because I’ve been able to stand on the strong shoulders of my father and grandfathers, I feel the strength of my roots.”
Family heritage gave Elder Jensen a sense of stability as he went through law school at the University of Utah. “I don’t think of myself as particularly smart, but I did gain confidence from knowing the value of hard work and by relying on the Lord. And knowing I came from good stock, I decided that if I didn’t succeed, it would be my own fault.” His conscientious efforts brought him from somewhere in the upper third of his class during his first year as a law student to number one at graduation.
This tradition is being passed on to another generation of Jensens. “Working together as a family is the best way to strengthen ties,” Elder Jensen says. The whole Jensen family participates on the farm—gathering eggs, feeding the calves, milking, sewing, baking, doing their part.
After returning from his mission in 1964, Marlin Jensen met Kathleen Bushnell on a blind date while he was attending BYU and she was attending Utah State University. They married 9 June 1967 in the Salt Lake Temple. Since then, both have served in many callings.
“I love working in the nursery and with the Cub Scouts,” says Kathy. She was recently released as Relief Society president to give birth to Sarah Jane, their eighth child. They have five other daughters—Jennifer, Julie, Emily, Kate, and Allison—and two sons—Matthew (currently serving a mission in Germany, where his father and grandfather served) and Ryan.
“Kathy’s magnificent obsession is to be a mother,” Elder Jensen says of his wife. “She loves her children and me, and her cheerful disposition is the model for the whole family. As a mother, she loves to learn right along with her children, reading aloud and sharing discoveries.”
“We are doing whatever we do for the Lord,” Kathy says, “and it is supremely important that I be there for my children. At times when I have become too involved elsewhere—PTA or even Church things—I see the difference here at home.”
The Jensens describe their parental pattern as a kind of cooperative effort. “We try to have very few rules,” Elder Jensen explains. “In fact, we tend not to make a rule until one seems needed. Instead, we all feel mutually supportive, sharing our belongings pretty openly, attending each others’ events to show our care—whether it’s one of the children’s performances, games, or events, or one of Dad’s ‘old-men’ basketball games at church.”
The Jensen family farm has prepared Elder Marlin K. Jensen in many ways for his labors in the Lord’s larger vineyard.