By Samantha Wantling
To me he was ‘Uncle Pete’, to the community of the Granite Belt he was a true gentleman. He was PJ, Peter, Jeno and so much more.
Last week our community lost a true legend. Peter Jensen was one of those men who was all things to all people. When the chips were down, there was Uncle Pete, always helping, always in the background and yet, always making a difference.
He epitomised community and overcame any battle put in front of him. He not only met his challenges head on, but he sailed above them. For him, community wasn’t just about showing up on the day, and it certainly wasn’t about the limelight or the accolades, it was about putting others before himself and treating everyone he met with respect.
From the moment the Jensen family arrived in Stanthorpe it was obvious that Peter, Neta and their family had found their home. Even though he may have had surf and sand pumping in his veins, Stanthorpe offered him the chance to be an integral part of a community, that very simply, just adored him.
Uncle Pete gave me my first ‘love’ job when I was just in high school – a swimming instructor at the Stanthorpe Pool. I am sure that he and my dad had conspired that it would be a great way of keeping me on the straight and narrow and too busy to chase boys – it didn’t work!
But what Peter did was to instil in me a love of the water, of doing something for someone with nothing in return and in the importance of children learning to swim. His passion for teaching kids to ‘just do their best’ will forever stay with me.
And while I loved every Saturday morning spent in the water with Peter and the kids, it wasn’t until I had children of my own that I appreciated the dedication that Peter Jensen possessed in spades.
I remember the first morning I turned up for swimming lessons with three little girls in tow and there was Uncle Pete; still in the pool with that big straw hat, still teaching and still with that larger than life smile.
As the years marched on and I lost my own dad, Uncle Pete was one of the first to reach out with a sympathetic ear and, as always, strong words of advice.
“Your dad will always live on right in there”, he said whilst pointing to my heart. “Dust yourself off Sammy and keep making him proud.”
When Peter wasn’t busy teaching two generations of children to swim on the Granite Belt, he could be found supporting the Stanthorpe Rugby League Football Club, helping with the Red Shield Appeal, aiding meals on wheels, and the list just goes on and on.
No Friday was complete in the business community, without a visit from Uncle Pete asking (convincing) you to buy a Lions Raffle ticket in their meat tray. For years it went unrewarded until finally in 2018 I got the phone call I had been waiting years to hear…” Sammy you won the meat tray”. He was quick to add: “So I’ll see you Friday, because I know you’ll want to try again”.
And I did… I could never say no to Peter Jensen.
There are so many people who come and go in our lives and make very little impact, but then there are the few, the very few who truly make a difference. Uncle Pete was one of them.
He has left his family and this community a legacy that we should all be grateful for. Through his passion and drive, he has left us with a better Granite Belt.
RIP Peter Jensen (Uncle Pete)