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Obit: Gerald "Jerry" Haller

Gerald "Jerry" Haller, 85, well-known musician and entertainer, passed away May 2, 2019 in the University of Minnesota Hospital ICU in Minneapolis with family at his side, from complications after surgery to repair a tear in the lining of his aorta.

Jerry was born Dec. 27, 1933 to Alvin and Dorothy (Rapp) Haller of St. Paul, Minn. Much of his youth and summer vacations were spent with his beloved grandparents Chester and Ellen Rapp, on their farm by Forest Lake. As a teen he worked in his parents' cafeteria in St. Paul. He graduated from Murray High School.

Jerry's musical training began at the age of seven with accordion lessons, and at 17 he started performing professionally in the Twin Cities metro area in numerous small combos and dance bands as a member of both the St. Paul and Minneapolis musicians unions. He taught accordion in Minneapolis at a music school. His formal music training in piano and violin continued at St. Cloud State College, where he played violin in the college orchestra. He later added private voice lessons.

Jerry had a variety of occupations and interests. He worked in music stores in Redwood Falls and Willmar in teaching and sales. For several years he worked at a publishing facility in New York City, including supervising a hand bindery, then driving and delivering for Hertz, including for the famous New York New Year's Eve parties, as a member of the Teamsters. After returning to Minnesota, Jerry studied the construction and building trades through Commercial Trades Institute of Chicago and worked on many homes, garages and other buildings, as well as the Duluth freeway bridges as a member of the carpenters union.

Jerry married Diane Folkestad, daughter of Donald and Fern (Peterson) Folkestad of Braham on Sept. 28, 1968 in Pine City, and was "adopted" by her family. They moved near Barnum and later bought a small farm where Jerry continued to work in carpentry. They raised a few varieties of animals, and Jerry and family planted thousands of trees which have provided habitat for wildlife and lumber for future use.

When health no longer allowed Jerry to continue construction work, he returned to his love of music and entertaining. His energetic, toe-tapping interactive style and "Sing Along with Jerry" programs were enjoyed by thousands at multiple locations in the Northland, including the Old Fashioned Inn in Finlayson, Timber Shores in McGregor, The Cliff Dweller on Lake Superior in Lutsen, banquets at the Duluth Radisson and Superior Barkers Island, many parties, fairs, senior residences, and reunions. He typed and arranged his own song booklets and programs.

Jerry was a perpetual reader and student, generous with his skills and talents, and was Carlton County's male Volunteer of the Year in 2016. He loved to work and made no plans to retire! He performed in the Barnum community theater's first and more productions. Jerry enjoyed attending concerts and plays, visiting, and feeding and watching wildlife in the yard.

Jerry was preceded in death by his parents Alvin and Dorothy Haller; grandparents Chester and Ellen Rapp, and Sophie and Alexander Haller; uncle and aunt, Paul and Eileen Rapp; mother-in-law Fern Folkestad; father-in-law Donald Folkestad; and brother-in-law Roger Folkestad.

Jerry is survived by his wife of 50 years, Diane; his sister and niece, Joanne and Janet Neihart of Cottage Grove; his sisters-in law and brothers-in-law and their children: Kathie and Kirby Hansen of Braham and Tammy Hansen of Minneapolis, Pam and Len Orn and Renae (Dan Pletan), Mike (Anissa) Orn and Mark (Courtney) Orn of Pine City, Gary and Terrie Folkestad and Amanda, Nathan, and Matthew Folkestad of Braham, and Sharon and Larry Vacek of Pine City; and great-nephew Jackson of Braham.

Gathering of Family and Friends: 1-5 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Barnum Senior Center.

Private Family inurnment will be in Grasston Union Cemetery.

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