Joanne M. Jensen of Falmouth, who brought cheer to patients in hospitals and nursing homes while outfitted in elaborate hand-made costumes, died January 30. She was 77.
She was the wife of Henry W. Jensen, who died in September.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she was the daughter of the late Joseph and Ruth Zeman.
After growing up in Ohio, then moving to Florida, Ms. Jensen eventually moved with her two young sons to Falmouth in 1968. Ms. Jensen’s faith was important to her, and it was at Falmouth Baptist Church where she met Henry Jensen at a New Year’s Eve gathering. He embraced her sons, and the couple married and soon welcomed another son and then a daughter to their family.
An accomplished seamstress, Ms. Jensen worked for Talbots in Osterville for many years until venturing into her own business, The Perfect Fit, which focused on tailoring clothes and specialized in wedding dresses. During this time, she trained her children to help in the business, hemming shirts and pants for extra spending money.
In addition to her work for clients, Ms. Jensen used her creativity and sewing expertise to craft puppets. She would create storylines to provide entertainment for her children’s birthday parties. Over the years she extended these puppet performances into Cape author Thornton W. Burgess stories and local historical characters, including Katharine Lee Bates.
In the early 1990s, Ms. Jensen developed a brain tumor and had several difficult operations. Although she was eventually able to continue an active lifestyle, her hand dexterity suffered and created challenges for her design and sewing work.
During her recuperation in Florida, she entertained weekly at veterans’ clinics and hospitals with her ventriloquist frog puppet Veronika and her dog Angel. The trio was always fitted with elaborately designed matching costumes, all made from scratch by Ms. Jensen. Examples include St. Patrick’s Day in green and shamrocks, Valentine’s Day with red hearts, characters from “The Wizard of Oz,” a Patriots football costume and even a golf course. She made more than 25 complete designs, with slight variations for herself, her puppet, and her bichon frise.
Ms. Jensen created a silvery Statue of Liberty outfit after the events of September 11, 2001. “The feedback on this costume is that it really brings people together; we all feel so awful about the terrorist attacks, and it feels good to stand up for our country,” she explained during an interview with the Enterprise at the end of that year.
Her visits to Royal Megansett Nursing & Retirement Home in North Falmouth, Cape Heritage Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Sandwich, JML Care Center and Woodbriar in Falmouth, Optimum Care in Mashpee, and The Greenery Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Center in Hyannis among other centers as well as local libraries would continue for more than 15 years, with Falmouth Hospital her favorite destination.
She leaves her children, Eric Jensen and his wife, Aileen Jensen, and Sue Driscoll and her husband, Robert Driscoll, all of Hatchville, William Jensen of New Hampshire, and Kenneth Jensen of Florida; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A private family graveside ceremony was held, with a celebration of her life planned for July.