More on the “Biggest Quaker”: Jack Jensen

When I was in the sixth grade, at Guilford Elementary School, our teacher, Mrs. Smith had us publish a newsletter/paper at the end of each school-year, called the “The Littlest Quaker”….

Here is more courtesy of Dave Walters and the Guilford College staff, on the man we should all remember as “The Biggest Quaker”, Jack Jensen….He might have been a little man in size, but he accomplished big things and to us he will always be remembered as, “The Biggest Quaker”…..

*Jack Jensen Dies Suddenly March 28; Taught and Coached at Guilford for 45

Jack Jensen, who taught and coached at Guilford for 45 years, died suddenly
March 28 after returning from a collegiate golf tournament. He was 71.

Jensen coached men’s basketball for 29 years until 1999 and was in his 33rd season as coach of the golf team. His teams won four national championships: the 1973 NAIA men’s basketball title, the 1989 NAIA golf title and the 2002 and 2005 NCAA Division III golf titles.

In his career, Jensen coached future NBA players M.L. Carr ’73, World B. Free ’76 and Greg Jackson ’74 as well as Greensboro’s Lee Porter ’89, who spent six years on the PGA Tour.

“Jack was a beloved mentor for hundreds of students for many years,” said
Guilford President Kent Chabotar. “He touched so many lives in a positive
way as a teacher, coach and friend, and he is held in high esteem by
generations of Guilford alumni. Jack had an enduring presence on our campus
and in the Greensboro community, and his loss will impact so many people who
admired him. He was among the first Guilfordians I met when I became
president in 2002, and his unfailing courtesy and competitiveness are among
my fondest memories of this world-class man.”

“As great a coach as Jack was, he was an even greater person,” said Tom
Palombo, director of athletics and men’s basketball coach. “It is an honor
to have been at Guilford with him and to talk with him every day. He knew a
lot about basketball and a lot about people. Being able to share ideas
about teaching and coaching was very special. He will be greatly missed.”

The most decorated coach in Guilford’s history, Jensen was enshrined in the
NAIA, North Carolina, Guilford County, Guilford College and Wake Forest
University Sports Halls of Fame, as well as the Golf Coaches Association of
America Hall of Fame. He was only the second person to coach two different
sports to NAIA national titles. In 2009, Guilford’s main basketball floor
in the Ragan-Brown Field House was renamed Jack Jensen Court.

Jensen came to Guilford in 1965 as an assistant men’s basketball and head
track and field coach. He assisted coach Jerry Steele’s basketball teams
before assuming head-coaching duties in 1970 when Steele left to direct the
Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association. He had a 386-392
record as head coach. In the 1970s, his basketball teams were 207-71 with
six 20-win seasons.

Jensen became golf coach in 1976 and his teams made 26 national tournament
appearances, including 17 top-10 finishes. Under his direction, 25 Guilford
students have received 40 performance and 12 Academic All-America honors in

Jensen played on Wake Forest University’s 1960-61 Atlantic Coast Conference
championship basketball team under coach Horace “Bones” McKinney. He
graduated from Wake Forest in 1961 and received a master’s degree in
education from UNC Greensboro five years later.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Marsha Jensen ’74. The couple has
two adult children, Laura Jensen Thornburg ’97 and Dennis Jensen ’00, and
one grandson, Jack Holton Thornburg.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

Dave Walters

1 comment

  1. What a great coach and an even better person! Everyone who knew Coach Jensen loved him….God Bless!

Comments are closed.