Original CMC students lured back to ‘amazing community’
Post Independent Correspondent
Two little pieces of Glenwood history have found their way home.
John and Cathy Jensen, both Colorado natives, have spent the past few decades living and working in various places around the country and the world — with John doing work at one point that’s known worldwide. In April, the pair returned to the Western Slope after 35 years away.
The Jensens originally came to Glenwood Springs independently of one another in the late 1960s to attend the newly minted Colorado Mountain College. Front Rangers by birth, John and Cathy were lured west by CMC’s beautiful, remote Spring Valley campus, nontraditional class schedule and progressive ideals. Cathy arrived in October 1967 for the college’s inaugural year.
“A friend of mine in Denver saw a small ad in the paper about something called the Colorado Mountain College,” Cathy said. “I contacted them, and they sent me information about the different programs they were going to offer. At that time they had a two-year applied science degree in commercial art; my dad was a printer, so I thought I could do that and work for my dad. I met a great bunch of friends at school, and John was one of them. That was how we met.”
Cathy holds the proud title of first CMC graduate. Ever.
“In those days, the graduation ceremony was alphabetical. And my maiden name was Abegg, so I was first in line,” she said.
After Cathy’s graduation, the Jensens married and relocated to Fort Collins, where John attended Colorado State University and earned a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design. The couple later found work in Lincoln, Nebraska, but left in the mid-1970s when John took a position with the CBS affiliate station (then KMGH-TV) in Denver.
“During our time in Nebraska, we missed Colorado,” they laughed, each finishing the other’s sentence. “So we came back.”
That same longing for their beloved home state would return many years later, but not before John and Cathy followed big opportunities to the West Coast.
“Cathy and I were thinking of venturing out, and I had been working with some CBS network folks in Los Angeles,” John said. “Through them, I ended up getting a job doing motion picture advertising with the Diener Hauser Bates agency in Beverly Hills. We moved to California in 1980.”
The early ‘80s brought the Jensens great success. Soon, John had padded his resume with design credits for Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, CBS Films and others. A few years later, he left Diener Hauser Bates to sign on with what is arguably one of the most recognizable brands in the world: Disney.
“I worked in corporate graphics for The Walt Disney Company. You know the logo?” John asked, forming Disney’s iconic lettering in the air with his hands. “I designed that. I helped make sure it was used uniformly throughout the company. Disney World, Disney Land, Tokyo, Paris. I had to do a lot of traveling.”
By 1989, John was ready for a different challenge: business ownership. With years of top-tier design work under his belt, he created John Jensen Designs. For over two decades his company has done consulting and contract work for a variety of clients, including Disney, Universal Studios, Caesar’s Entertainment and large hospitals and schools in the L.A. area. John was quick to note Cathy’s support.
“She has been my right arm,” he said.
Cathy agreed that the skills she honed at CMC have proven useful over the years.
“I consider myself to be an artistic person,” she said. “I’m crafty, and I like to use my hands. It’s what I enjoy, and it’s what I’m good at.”
Earlier this year, the Jensens sold their house in Southern California and again returned to the place where their story began: Colorado. They had visited old CMC friends in Glenwood Springs countless times over the years, but decided the time was finally right to make a permanent move back to the valley.
Although John will continue to offer services via John Jensen Designs, the pair is planning to retire and enjoy the good life in Glenwood Springs.
“There is something special about this area,” John said. “This is an amazing community — the natural beauty, the people. We are really hoping to get involved here.”
John and Cathy are also looking forward to spending more time working on art projects, traveling, visiting their children and grandchildren and remodeling their Park West home.
”It’s fulfilling to see it all come together,” Cathy said.
Will they miss California?
“Oh, we love the Hollywood Bowl, the beach, wine country,” John said. “We realized when we left that there were things we were going to miss.
“But,” he added with a grin, “not enough to keep us there.”
John’s online portfolio may be viewed at http://www.johnjensendesign.com.
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