A visitation will be held at Pedersen Funeral Home, Morris, MN on Saturday, October 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. with a prayer service at 10:30 a.m.
Jean Ekern, 91 years old, died Monday, September 19, 2016 at her home surrounded by her devoted and beloved family.
Jean Ekern was born Shirley Jean Sanders on February 27, 1925 to Edwin and Edith Swenson Sanders. Jean was baptized and confirmed in the Christian faith by Lutheran ministers and had a lifelong interest in theology. She was the eldest of three children on the farm her father had homesteaded near Rawson, ND.
She earned a B.A. at Concordia College, Moorhead, MN. She also graduated from Fairview Hospital School of Nursing, Minneapolis, MN.
John Ekern and Jean Sanders were married on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 1948. In 1962 they bought Lakeview Lanes in Morris MN, which they expanded to a 12-lane bowling house. They provided entertainment to the community through bowling and roller skating for 35 years. They were members of First Lutheran Church. Jean was profiled in the "Sunspots" column of the Morris Sun Tribune in 1999.
Jean loved to explore places and peoples. She traveled to many state and National parks, 28 foreign countries and all 50 states.
Jean was a Registered Nurse until she was 85. She was active in Morris, Graceville, and Willmar, MN. After retiring from paid nursing at 72 years old, Jean initiated the Parish Nurse Ministry in First Lutheran Church, Morris MN, where she served for several years. Jean moved from her house in Morris to an independent living apartment in December, 2008 to be near her daughters and grandchildren.
This Labor Day Weekend, Jean joined 15 relatives in traveling to Alexander, ND where she and her family were honored at Old Settlers Day and she led the parade. She revisited her childhood home, saw the oil wells, and toured Roosevelt National Park.
Jean is survived by three daughters and their husbands: Joan and Steven Axdal, Cottage Grove; Julianne and John Degenhardt, Woodbury; and Jenifer and Jim Watters, Lake Elmo. Also surviving are two grandchildren: Joey and Matthew Axdal, Cottage Grove. She is survived by her sister, Clara Louise Rasmusson, Morris. She is preceded in death by four children by miscarriage, her husband John, and their son Erik; her parents, her brother and sister-in-law Roger and Betty Sanders, Rawson, ND; and brother-in-law Douglas Rasmusson, Hancock, MN.
A Memorial Service for Jean Ekern will also be held on Saturday, October 15 at 12:30 at All Saints Lutheran Church, 8100 Hadley Ave S., Cottage Grove MN. Interment will be at the family cemetery plot in Flandreau, SD.
Charitable donations may be made to Operation Bootstrap Africa www.bootstrapafrica.org for the Maasai Girls Secondary School or the Arusha Lutheran Medical Center (ALMC) School of Nursing.
Cards may be sent to the Family of Jean Ekern, c/o 6719 Ideal Ave S., Cottage Grove MN 55016.
Blessed be our memories of Jean Ekern and on her influence in the world.