Near the end of an amazing life of 101 years, Mary spoke this simple truth about herself, “I’ve
really done a lot of things in my life.”
Mary Louise (Jerstad) Jacobs was born in Racine Wisconsin on February 1, 1922 and drew her
last breath on February 15, 2023 surrounded by her daughter Connar, her son, Peter, and
Peter’s wife Mary Beth. They (and her other children and amazing caregivers) had cared for
Mary in the last years of her life, allowing her to finish her journey in the amazing place she and
our father, Harold (Jake) Jacobs, had called Wingspread, where eagles and hawks soared
above the land they loved.
Her parents were Arthur (Great Art) and Alice Jerstad. Her older brother John (Jack) Jerstad,
died with honors (Congressional Medal of Honor) in WWII during a mission in Romania bombing
the German oil refineries. Mary had always looked up to Jack, for his service to both his
community (working with youth in Racine) and then his country with the Army Air Corps.
Mary loved the arts and became an art/home economics teacher after graduating from Iowa
Sate University where she met Jake. During her time at ISU she heard about an opportunity to
teach English in Ecuador, and as a 22 year old college student, went for it. She knew her
brother Jack would have told her to give it a try. She referenced the experience often, “I can’t
believe I did that.” Yes indeed, you did it Mom!
When college was over, and the war had ended, Mary and Jake were married on August 31,

  1. They brought into the world, and raised, four fortunate children who witnessed their love
    daily and learned the lessons of living well in the world.
    They made homes for their family in Clinton and Milton Wisconsin before moving north in the
    mid-seventies to the farm and their beloved Wingspread. Jake, a high school teacher like Mary,
    had imagined himself as a farmer over his life, and Mary supported his dream when he
    announced he was retiring from teaching to go farming.
    When Peter took over farming operations, Mary and Jake purchased the Cheese Hut in Hixton
    and served customers there from 1980 to 1990; selling bulk cheese, as well as their handmade
    gift items. They easily struck up conversations with all their traveling guests and enjoyed this
    final run of working together.
    Mary enjoyed life fully. She welcomed everyone she saw with that twinkling smile while calling
    out sweetly, “HELLO-Y!”
    From golfing with friends (she played once as a spry 88 year old), to social and family
    gatherings, to being twirled around the dance floor by Jake, to preparing meals or baking her
    wonderful Julekage at Christmas, to playing tennis with kids and grandkids (she and Jake built
    tennis courts at their last two homes), to cheering on the Packers, Brewers, and Bucks or
    watching The Masters, to painting and creating distinctive pieces of art, she viewed all of life as
    a true blessing.

The art work—Mary’s and Jake’s art work—graces the homes of friends, children, grandkids
and great grandkids, and continues to reflect back to others the love that went into making each
unique item.
Her work inspired a song in her honor “Grandma Mary Paints EVERYTHING!” “Tables and
chairs, magnets and pails, spoons and brooms, barrels and blocks, an old wooden box, and a
peach pit loon; mile and miles of hellos and goodbyes.”
Mary was preceded in death by her loving husband Jake. Her dear friends who passed before
Mom; Lori and Glen Slocum, and Mel and Marian Larsen are remembered too.
She is survived by her children, Scott (Maria Shea), Jeff (Cathy), Connar, Peter (Mary Beth),
daughter-in-law Beth Jacobs, grandchildren Martha (Eric) Peterson, Paul (Ann) Jacobs, Michael
(Maggie) Jacobs, Cory Jacobs (Bethany), Megan Jacobs (Shane), great grandchildren Annie,
Drew, Claire, Russell, Elizabeth, Caleb, Lydia, Amara, and Nova.. And also her dear, lifelong
friend Barb Haskins; college friend, and fellow Delta Zeta at ISU who is still with us at 99 years
of age.
Mary’s simple guides to living, burned into the wooden countertop in her kitchen, for all to see,
said much about her view of life, what she appreciated, and how to care for ourselves; Look
Out Every Window, Remember Railroads, All Aboard, Stay Creative, Love The Country,
Go Slow, Stay on Track, Step Right Up, Sing and Dance, Play Games, Take Naps.
Your final nap, Mom, has arrived. Rest well and know how deeply you have been loved.
In lieu of flowers, donations are greatly appreciated to Black River Hospice Kathy’s Fund or
Homecare Lydie’s Fund which support family’s caring for loved ones at home and provide
special memories they might not otherwise be able to afford.
A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.
The Jensen- Modjeski Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements, 715-963-2311.

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