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1935 Alice 2024

Alice Jensen

August 31, 1935 — May 12, 2024

Fishers

Alice Jensen of Fishers, Indiana and Shelbyville, Tennessee, passed away on Mother’s Day, Sunday May 12, 2024, at the age of 88.  

She was predeceased by her husband Axel C. Jensen Sr. and leaves behind son Hans Peter (Mary) Jensen of Fishers, Indiana and grandchildren Clare Jensen of Tucson, Arizona and Peter Jensen of Fishers Indiana, along with countless friends she made through her many interests.

Alice is one of the remaining children of World War II.  She was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. Alice’s father Alwin perished at the end of the war when every male who had not been drafted yet was being sent to the front, even though her family didn’t support the German regime. Her father was a tremendous influence on her life and anyone who has spoken to her for long has realized how much she adored him. Not only did he nurture her love of nature but also her love of photography, woodworking, and sharing her knowledge with others.

Less often, Alice would tell people about how brave her mother Lydia was by hiding her from the Russian soldiers post World War II, how they burned their furniture to keep warm, or how they shared their apartment with strangers who lost their home during the war.  Alice was always very matter-of-fact and she often said that she never felt sad about her past, it was the only childhood she knew.  

At 17, she was the youngest person who worked at the Berlin Botanical Gardens. It was there that her love of orchids began. She had a choice between working with orchids and cacti, but because she didn’t want to work for the “grouchy cacti boss,” we remember her for her orchids, not prickly cacti. It is no surprise that Alice taught herself the Latin names of the plants during that time. “Languages are different all over the world but the Latin names for plants are the same” is what Alice liked to say.  

Alice traveled the US in 1958, married Axel Jensen in 1959 and she and her mother moved to Shelbyville, Tennessee to make a home on her beloved Horse Mountain.  Alice and Axel lived in India for a year shortly after marrying and sent home orchids for their first greenhouse. Some of those orchids are still alive today.  Over the years one greenhouse grew into 9 and Horse Mountain Orchids was Alice’s dream come true.  Her orchids won countless awards as she exhibited them in shows near and far.  

Hans was born in 1964 and grew up on “the farm” helping his parents with the green houses, tending the property, and playing in the woods.  After he moved away, anyone who stopped by would be asked to help with “one simple thing” that often turned into a few hours of farm chores, including lots of educational tidbits and very thorough instructions.  Alice knew how to get things done!  

Alice’s love of plants was not limited to orchids.  She loved nature from the smallest fungi to the largest tree.  She cataloged rare species on her own farm as well as hiking to see them in isolated valleys in Tennessee, Georgia, and beyond (even Costa Rica only a few years ago!)  Her camera went with her wherever she went, and she captured thousands of moments in the natural world.   “Nature changes every second, so pay attention please!” was something she would often tell those she was instructing.  An ever-changing collection of photos also went with her wherever she went.   Before you knew it, you would be looking through a stack of pictures with detailed explanations of each one.

Besides a strong accent (which Hans cannot detect!) her German origins came through in other ways.   There was a right way to do things and a wrong way.  She would teach you the right way!  For example, The Orchid Society of Middle Tennessee learned many times during her active membership from the 1960’s onward that clay pots are THE right way to pot orchids.  In addition to the Orchid Society, she was also a member of the Tennessee Native Plant Society, Georgia Botanical Society, the local fiber club, local garden club and woodturners club.  Alice quickly filled the greenhouse and was an active part of the community at her most recent residence, Independence Village in Fishers Indiana.  

Alice was a remarkable woman who lived a full and active life.  What she wanted most of all was to share that with others.  A dear friend of hers was able to describe her so well: “Alice was teeming with enthusiasm and knowledge, which she would gladly share with those around her willing to listen.”  Rest in peace dear Alice.  You have taught us more than you know.  

A celebration of life will be held at the pavilion at the Horse Mountain Cemetery, behind the Trinity Baptist Church in Shelbyville TN on Alice’s birthday, August 31st at 1:00 PM.       

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Webb School, Bell Buckle, Tennessee.  

To order memorial trees in memory of Alice Jensen, please visit our tree store.

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