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Obituary: Jerome "Jerry" Allen Pederson

Jerome "Jerry" Allen Pederson, 78, of Moose Lake, passed away peacefully on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, at Solvay Hospice House with his family and care team by his side.

Jerry was born June 21,1945, in Slayton, Minnesota to Martin and Hilda Pederson. Jerry and his twin sister, Judy, were the youngest of eight siblings. He grew up on a family farm in Westbrook. In between farm chores and school, Jerry played sports, including football, track, and wrestling and loved participating in choir. He graduated from Westbrook High School in 1963.

After graduation, he lived in southern Minnesota and Kansas.

In 1976, Jerry entered sobriety and on Jan. 8, 2024, he proudly celebrated his 48th year of sobriety. Shortly into his recovery, Jerry found his passion for human services, becoming a substance use disorder counselor in northern Minnesota. For more than 30 years, he supported hundreds of people in recovery at the Hibbing Hospital, Lake Venoah Board & Lodge, Minnesota Correctional Facility-Willow River, and through Alcoholics Anonymous. A highlight of Jerry's career was on June 23, 1988, when Gov. Rudy Perpich appointed him to the State Board of Unlicensed Mental Health Services Providers (later becoming vice chairman). He served until January 1991.

Jerry often shared that his life's purpose was to serve others. This happened not only throughout his professional career, but also through volunteering. After retirement from the State of Minnesota in 2003, Jerry volunteered in a variety of activities, groups, and committees, proudly serving as a Moose Lake Community School school board member, the Carlton County Health and Human Services Advisory Committee chairman, a Minnesota Deer Hunters Association Quad Rivers Chapter member, a firearms instructor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, a reading volunteer in Barnum schools, and an active member of the Barnum Community United Methodist Church.

His dedication to service extends after death, as he donated his body to the University of Minnesota Medical School's Anatomy Bequest program in support of medical students' education.

Jerry's pride and joy were his children, Jensina and Jacob. He loved spending time and sharing meals with his family and grandchildren and showed no mercy when playing Uno or poker. Jerry loved to razz the people he loved the most and he did so until he could no longer speak. Jerry was most vibrant laughing or smirking at something he found amusing, singing in church or to doo wop music, enjoying the outdoors, feeding birds (and battling squirrels), and spending time with his church community, especially preparing and sharing Wednesday night meals. Jerry savored good food, with meatloaf, baked potato soup, ice cream, string cheese, and peanut butter cups among the favorites. He also expressed his love through generosity, gifting people, some he barely knew, with books, magazine subscriptions, lottery tickets, NFL schedules, and other items.

And of course, there is coffee. It is impossible to think of Jerry separate from coffee. He could almost always be found making coffee or drinking it. He looked forward to daily "coffee with the boys" and was known to take a principled stand against rising prices by switching coffee spots. Jerry calculated that throughout his time as a parishioner at Barnum Community United Methodist Church, he made over 100,000 cups of coffee for various church events.

Overall, Jerry will be remembered as a solitary, kind, brave, funny, thoughtful, headstrong, and generous man with a deep and abiding faith in his God as well as a steadfast commitment to community. His road was not always smooth nor his journey without pain, but we take comfort that his mind, body, and spirit are finally at peace. Dad truly lived, loved, and died his way. He will be deeply missed.

Jerry is preceded in death by his parents, Hilda and Martin Pederson; brothers, Lloyd and Don; sisters, Anna, Harriett, LaDonna, and Alice; and granddog, Odin.

He is survived by his twin sister, Judy (Dave) Nealy; daughter, Jensina (Tyler) Rosen and son, Jacob Pederson; grandchildren, Lilyana and Aidan Rosen; "bestest friend" Sue Jordan; close friend and pastor, Kendall Carlson; and numerous friends, family, and community members.

The family sends their deepest gratitude to his Essentia Home Hospice and Solvay Hospice House care teams. While all staff members are critically important, the staff who made an extra special impact on his hospice journey include Anna, Matt, Jennifer, and Danielle from Home Hospice and Stephanie, Andrew, Patrick, Connie, Dorothy, Barb, Kim, Tammy, and volunteer Craig from Solvay. Thank you for not just providing compassionate care and comfort, but reassurance when fears grew, companionship when the days were long and visitors short, as well as bringing him many cups of coffee and scooping up to six bowls of rock-hard vanilla ice cream (with butterscotch topping) each day. While he was in hospice, Jerry felt truly loved by his care teams. The family felt that as well.

A celebration of life will be held at the Barnum Community United Methodist Church on Friday, Feb. 23 with a visitation from 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. memorial service, followed by a noon lunch.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Miller Dwan Foundation's Solvay Hospice Compassionate Care Legacy Fund in Jerry's memory.

Pine Knot News, Feb. 9, 2024