Long-time library board trustee honored

Those who drive by the Mark Twain Library may have noticed the bronze statue of Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher sitting outside the building’s entrance.  Yet, most people probably don’t know that it was purchased by long-time library board trustee Grady Jensen, as a tribute to his late wife.

Jensen, 94, was honored recently at Meadow Ridge at a surprise party. Over 70 people — including many of his friends and family members— came to the event.

“I still don’t understand,” Jensen said, upon arriving and realizing he was the guest of honor. He wore a gray and white sports jacket with matching slacks to the tribute.  “I only put this on because I thought I was having dinner with Jen,” he joked.

Mark Twain Library board member Bob Saunders speaks at a tribute to long-time Board Trustee Grady Jensen. Library Director Beth Dominianni, left, and Board of Trustees President Jennifer Wastrom are in the background; daughter Caroline Klein and grandson Steven Klein, next to Grady, look on.

Mark Twain Library board member Bob Saunders speaks at a tribute to long-time Board Trustee Grady Jensen. Library Director Beth Dominianni, left, and Board of Trustees President Jennifer Wastrom are in the background; daughter Caroline Klein and grandson Steven Klein, next to Grady, look on.

Library director Beth Dominianni presented Jensen with a plaque in his honor, which read: “If it weren’t for Grady Jensen, the Mark Twain Library would be just another library.”

Beth Dominianni presents a plaque to Mark Twain Library board trustee Grady Jensen. Photo by Donna Christopher

Beth Dominianni presents a plaque to Mark Twain Library board trustee Grady Jensen. Photo by Donna Christopher

Jensen has served the library long past a typical two-year term — he has been on the board for eight years.  “Board terms serve three years and trustees can serve two back-to-back terms for six years. Grady has stayed on. And in what should have been his retirement, he has initiated some very important matters of business,” said Board of Trustees President Jennifer Wastrom.

“You keep us so busy,” Wastrom later told Jensen, speaking at the gathering.

In addition, according to Board of Trustees President Jennifer Wastrom, it’s Jense

A small replica of the sculpture of Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher that Grady Jensen keeps at home. The big statue he purchased for the Mark Twain Library in memory of his wife Maggie is permanently erected outside the building’s entrance. Jensen bought both statues from Cavalier Galleries of Greenwich. Photo by Donna Christopher

A small replica of the sculpture of Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher that Grady Jensen keeps at home. The big statue he purchased for the Mark Twain Library in memory of his wife Maggie is permanently erected outside the building’s entrance. Jensen bought both statues from Cavalier Galleries of Greenwich. Photo by Donna Christopher

PI P1 Grady 7/13, 4 Long-time Mark Twain Library board trustee Grady Jensen is shown with his family. Seated, from left, grandson Michael Klein, 14, daughter Eliza Jensen, grandson Adam Wisniewski, 17, Grady Jensen; front row, son Tim Grady, Steven Klein, 11 and daughter Caroline Klein.  Photo by Donna Christopher

PI P1 Grady 7/13, 4 Long-time Mark Twain Library board trustee Grady Jensen is shown with his family. Seated, from left, grandson Michael Klein, 14, daughter Eliza Jensen, grandson Adam Wisniewski, 17, Grady Jensen; front row, son Tim Grady, Steven Klein, 11 and daughter Caroline Klein. Photo by Donna Christopher

n’s generosity that made it possible for the library to own the bronze statue.

Jensen, a Meadow Ridge resident, purchased the statue in 2009, two months after his wife Mary Margaret Wilber Jensen (Maggie) died.  

Jensen addressed the crowd, moments after being surprised with the tribute. “Maggie died April 1, 2009. In June, I was driving by and saw the statue and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be a great memorial to Maggie?’” he said.

He explained how the statue came on loan in 2006 from Cavalier Galleries in Greenwich. The replica of the statue, which was on display at the party, is a miniature version Jensen bought from the gallery to keep at his home. The original will remain with the library.

Wastrom said she feels the statue was tailor-made for the library. “It is certainly a permanent enhancement to the institution we all love,” she said.

“The big statue is a joy to the library. I see families go outside and pose next to it — Grady has a brilliant background in business. He is such a generous, kind, fabulous man,” library Director Beth Dominianni told the Pilot.

Jensen’s son Tim said his father’s role on the library board keeps him “active and engaged. He talks to us a lot about the library,” he said.

Pam Robey, a past board president and current development chair for the library, said she works often with Jensen — planning events and fundraisers.

“We held a wine tasting in November to celebrate the Mark Twain Library and had an expert, with wines from Italy, Germany, California and upstate New York. Grady is the team chair. He manages and coordinates everything. He sells the tickets, makes reservations. These are some of the most well attended events. He is near and dear to our hearts.”

Jensen was always active throughout this life.  He earned an accounting degree from Wharton. In the 1970s, Jensen served as the mayor of Scarsdale.

Jensen’s career was in personnel and financial management.  Prior companies he was employed with include Eastern Airlines, Chase Manhattan, American Express and the Bar Association of the City of New York.

 

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