The Norman Transcript

Local Sports

February 1, 2013

You may not know Bear Jensen, but it’s time that you do

NORMAN — This is the way it works.

Lester “Bear” Jensen is headed into another hall of fame. You may know him or you may not, but it’s notable because he grew up in Norman and lives in Norman now.

Eighty-seven years old and still married to Hazel going on 65 years, Jensen has lived quite a life, one charted by various enshrinements.

He’s in the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame for coaching stops at Davis, Pauls Valley and Claremore. He’s in the East Central University Hall of Fame for his athletic exploits between the lines. And the weekend of Feb. 15-16 he’ll enter Cameron University’s Athletic Hall of Fame for his work as a coach and administrator.

But you should know him because he’s seen it all, done it all and remembers it like it was yesterday. Because his enshrinement into one more hall of fame may not be a huge story, the opportunity to catch up with him is huge indeed.

Where’d “Bear” come from?

It was 1938 or 39 and the newspaper he’d been selling, The Oklahoma News was no longer in business, so he and his younger brothers, Bill and Harvey, approached B.M. Shields, who ran The Oklahoman and Times office in Norman. Shields gave them jobs and monikers, too.

“You’re going to be the three bears,” Shields told Jensen.

Maybe it stuck because he was the oldest. Whatever, it stuck so well that earlier this week, phoned for an interview and asked upon answering, “Is this Lester?,” it took him a moment to realize it was.

He graduated from Norman High in 1945, where he played for Arlo “Skivey” Davis. Though state titles were not recognized until 1944, Jensen remembers being ranked No. 1 in 1943.

“We lost one game, to the Amarillo Golden Sandies,” he said. “We used to play them every year.”

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