Ever since he won the Stella Shouting Contest on Friday, coworkers have been calling him “the screamer.”
In fact, one of the only times Richard Jensen has not been at work lately was so that he could yell up at a balcony in downtown Columbus.
Jensen is a chemical engineer with Gulfstream. He works 60 hours a week Monday through Saturday. He is a bit more social than his job title suggests.
“I have a reputation for being flamboyant,” Jensen said.
He dresses well, and is talkative. He’s not from around here, either. Jensen, 63, moved here with Gulfstream to work on a project for their client, Aurora Flight Services, six-and-a-half months ago from Utah. He brought his wife, Joya. The couple tied the knot two days before they left for Mississippi.
“We have been on honeymoon in Columbus, Mississippi, for the last six-and-a-half months,” Jensen said.
This is his first time staying in Columbus, but not his first time in the Magnolia State, nor his first time in the Golden Triangle. He lived in Starkville a few years ago. But he said he and his wife have felt Columbus has lived up to its motto of, “The Friendly City.”
“I could not overemphasize how friendly the people are here,” Jensen said.
He beat out 17 other contestants last Friday during the Tennessee Williams Tribute event hosted by Hollyhocks. He was wearing a tuxedo and a top hat. He was using skills from his theatre background.
Jensen was involved with the Utah Symphony Orchestra and the opera. He said he has taken acting classes, too.
As theatre enthusiasts, Jensen and his wife were delighted with the free tickets to “The Glass Menagerie” and the experience of eating Tennessee Williams’ favorite meal, which they were given after Jensen’s Friday night win.
Jensen said he and his wife had been to New Orleans a couple weeks ago, and they were confident that the etouffee served to them after he had belted his lungs out was even better than they had eaten down south.
Jensen hopes to defend his title next year, and he hopes to become more involved with local theatre.
For this couple, it’s a heck of a honeymoon, with no end in sight.