Soerensen Jens Werner Walter
|Type of person||Individual|
|Date of birth||1930|
|Place of birth||Hamburg Germany|
|Date of arrival||1952|
|Principal occupation||Pig Stud manager and Farmer|
|Date of death||2016|
|Place of decease||Mallala South Australia|
Jens Werner Walter Soerensen (Eulogy)
Jens was born on the 1st April 1930 in Hamburg Germany to his Danish father Caesar Henry Soerensen and his German mother Johanna nee Schmidt. Jens was the middle of three boys. Henry was two years older and Holger was two years younger. The first born to the Soerensens was in fact a daughter who sadly at the age of five years died of diphtheria, just 2 years before Jens was born. Jens grew up living in the family hotel the Hotel Soerensen. Jens recalled the hotel being open between 9 a.m. and midnight. He spoke of the furnace in the cellar and of the ballroom where he would watch from the cloakroom and learn the dance steps. He became a proficient dancer by the age of 14 years. Jens spoke fondly of his days on the family motor boat, riding bikes around with his brother and jumping off the wharf and swimming.
Jens also spent a lot of his early years on the family farm of his Aunty Ida Schmidt just outside Stettin. As a youth Jens also spent time on his uncle’s farm as they were large landowners growing grain and potatoes, breeding pigs and milking cows.
Jens spoke of the terrible times during the war and the bombings in Hamburg. He recalls running to the bunkers when the sirens sounded and even witnessing a young mate who didn’t make it. At times he just didn’t want to run but older brother Henry watched over him and almost dragged him into the bunkers. Also during this time the school children were sent away with their teachers acting as guardians. Jens spent time in Vienna and Prague.
The Soerensens also had an interest in trotting horses and at the age of fifteen years Jens obtained a 4 year apprenticeship for a trainer/driver license. His proudest moment was being leading reinsman in Hamburg.
After the war was over and he had dealt with the death of his mother, Jens pondered the advertised opportunities abroad. He thought of America or England but it was an Englishman who suggested he go to Australia. It was a huge decision for a 21 year old yet Jens had already experienced so much in his young life. The trip was to cost 159 pounds which was covered by the South Australian Railways and was to be paid back as part of his wages. So in 1952 Jens headed for Australia. Not via a 20 hour plane trip as it is today, but on a rusty old ship the MS Nelly along with 1,000 men looking for opportunity. Arriving after a long and painful trip the Port Adelaide wharf was a bit of a shock compared to the busy and industrious docks of Hamburg.
The team of men were then transported to Korunye South Australia to build a railway and set up a tent city. They soon experienced the harsh Australian climate from the extreme heat to being flooded out and the tents washed away when the River Light flooded. Having these young men in the area was a bonus for the local farmers who were looking to employ part time workers to assist with the harvest. Jens became friendly with the Pratt family who farmed nearby and in turn met Mr Stanley Agnew who offered him a job after he finished with railway camp life. Jens always spoke highly of Mr. Agnew who he called “boss”. When Mr Agnew retired to Adelaide Jens continued to work with Howard and Gwen Agnew remaining a loyal and hard worker on their property “Gwenbank”. The Agnew’s also ran a very successful Berkshire and Landrace pig stud, winning many ribbons at the shows they attended. Jens often spoke of driving the old Bedford truck all the way to Sydney for the Sydney Royal Easter Show. They were sought after to judge at many of the shows and Jens loved that association and the many friends they made over the years. Gwenbank also won many baconer carcase competitions and newspaper clippings stated “Mr Agnew paid tribute to his pig stud manager Jens Soerensen”. Gwenbank also held many on property pig sales and breeder’s travelled from all parts of the country to buy into their bloodlines.
In the early 1950’s Jens was encouraged to play lawn bowls and like everything he did he quickly excelled and enjoyed a long and successful career. Jens was three times runner up in the Mallala Bowling Club night singles championship; Club champion in 1970 and 72, Division singles champion in 1973, Divisional four champion in 1986. He loved the state Country Bowls Carnival and the friends he made along the journey. He was proudly awarded Life membership of the Mallala Bowling Club.
It was another especially proud moment for Jens in May 1967 when he was naturalised and became an Australian citizen. He also knew that he was truly Australian as his dreams were in English and not German! He acquired some consistent sayings like if you wished him G’Day he would reply with “I will tell you at the end of the day”.
In 1973 things were a little tough at the Gwenbank property so Jens decided to sell his share in the Hotel Soerensen to his brothers and invest into Gwenbank and become a partner with Gwen and Howard Agnew. Gwen Agnew died in April 1973 and Howard died in July 1994. So it was Jens and his loyal worker Lyall Hains who continued to operate Gwenbank.
On the 3rd of July 1993 Jens married Rhonda Stewart nee Coleman. He had an instant family with Rhonda's son, his wife and their two children. When these two married there were eventually six grandchildren. Jens loved to see the children grow up and he had the gift to be able to communicate with all ages.
Jens and Rhonda did a lot of travelling to most parts of Australia, New Zealand and Europe. When Jens took Rhonda back to Germany to meet his brothers and their families he said they all loved Rhonda and that she was a “big hit”….. something that made Jens proud.
In 2003 Jens and Rhonda retired into a lovely home in Mallala. They settled in well and did a few cruises, bought a caravan and played some more bowls. They joined Probus and Jens joined the Lions Club for a short period but as health and mobility problems caught up with them they were quite happy spending time in their own home.
Who can forget the terrible day in November 2015 when the infamous Pinery fire destroyed everything in its path. Sadly the property “Gwenbank” was a casualty and the lovely homestead was razed to the ground.
As the health and memories were fading and despite the family's tireless work, it became obvious that they needed help to honour Jens wish to remain at home until the end. A wonderful organization called Helping Hand came to the rescue and looked after them with the cooking and cleaning and cared for their health requirements. The family was very appreciative of all the personnel who assisted in an way.
Also a special appreciation was tendered to the Mallala doctors for the assistance and home visits by Doctors Daryl Burford and Gurpreet Singh and for the kindness and assistance of the staff.
Jens celebrated a journey of 86 years during which he had many and varied experiences and achieved so much. Jens Soerensen quietly and peacefully died at home on Sunday 6th November 2016.
Eulogy written and presented by a friend and colleague - Mr Brian Manuel of Mallala South Australia.
- Family information compiled by Brian Manuel of Mallala South Australia