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Obituary

Gerald G. Sjolander

April 30, 2022 | 11 comments

Gerald (Jerry) Gene Sjolander, age 81, of Onalaska, a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend, and community servant passed away unexpectedly Friday, April 29, 2022, at Mayo Clinic Health System, La Crosse.

He was born April 9, 1941, in LaCrosse to Tilman and Ruth (Hauser) Sjolander and graduated from Onalaska High School in 1959. He met his beloved wife, Kathy, on a blind date that was arranged by mutual friends. They married on January 13, 1968, at United Methodist Church, in Onalaska.

Jerry was drafted into the U.S. Army and served as a Military Police Officer. When he returned to Onalaska in 1965, he worked service-oriented jobs which included a patrolman for the Onalaska Police Department; owner/operator of Jerry’s Drive-In; a brakeman for Burlington Northern railroad; and a rural mail carrier and Officer in Charge at the United States Postal Service where he retired after 28 years of service.

Jerry and his family loved to vacation “up north”, and in 2000, he and Kathy moved to Hayward, WI. They made several lasting friendships while in Hayward and enjoyed entertaining friends and family on their pontoon boat either cruising or fishing on Nelson Lake. Jerry served as a supervisor for the Town of Lenroot, WI, for a few years. In 2011, one year after Kathy passed away of cancer, Jerry relocated back to Onalaska to be closer to family and lifelong friends.

Jerry’s strong work ethic, ability to work well with others, empathy, foresight, selflessness, and passion for the City of Onalaska and its citizens contributed to his service mindset. His service to the community over the years included Onalaska Fire Department volunteer firefighter, the Onalaska Bicentennial Celebration in1976, Onalaska Sunfish Days, founded the Miss Onalaska Scholarship Organization, City of Onalaska First District Alderperson, Onalaska Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2001, Onalaska Rotary, Onalaska Historic Preservation Commission, Onalaska High School Alumni Association, Onalaska American Legion Post 336 where he served on the Honor Guard, and a member of the La Crosse County Voiture 830 Forty & Eight as the Child Welfare Officer.

In 2019, Jerry was honored to be one of the many veterans to board the Freedom Honor Flight to Washington D.C. along with his son, Steven, who served as a guardian on the trip. In 2021, Jerry was humbled by his induction into Onalaska High School’s Alumni Association Wall of Excellence.

His many hobbies and interests included fishing, camping, boating, hunting, golfing, bowling, reading, and crossword puzzles. He was a loyal fan of the Packers, Badgers, and his beloved Onalaska Hilltoppers.

Jerry lived his life serving God, country, and community. His children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were the pride and joy of his life. His kind spirit, passion to help others, love of the outdoors, and zest for life will live on through them. Jerry will be greatly missed and is forever in our hearts.

He is survived by his children, Colleen Hammons, Jeffry (Tena) Sjolander, Steven (Laura Myhre) Sjolander, and Erik (Amy) Sjolander; grandchildren, Jennelle (Derrick) Kehr, Hudson (Peyton Cherry) Hammons, Hayden (Kay’ce) Hammons, Harrison Hammons, Karsen Sjolander, and Dawson Sjolander; great-grandchildren, Haleigh Hammons, Harley Hammons, Raelynn Kehr, and Ramsey Kehr; brother, Carl (Cindy) Sjolander; companion, Elaine Borger; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.

Jerry is preceded in death by his wife, Kathleen Sjolander; parents, Tilman and Ruth Sjolander; father- and mother-in-law, Delbert and Florence Merrell; brother, Richard “Dick” Sjolander; brothers-in-law, David Merrell and Robert “Bounce” Peterson, and sisters-in-law, Carol Dwyer, Sue Schafer, and Barbara Sjolander.

A celebration of life service will be held on Thursday, May 12th, at 12:00 p.m. at the Coulee Region Cremation Group, 133 Mason Street, Onalaska. Visitation will be from 9:00 a.m. until the time of service. Pastor Scott Skogen will officiate. Family interment will be held at the Hauser Cemetery in Onalaska with military honors by the Onalaska American Legion Post 336. A reception will follow the service at the Onalaska American Legion Post 336, 731 Sand Lake Road.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Onalaska High School Alumni Association.

Condolences

11 Comments

  1. Doug Huggett

    My condolences to Jerry’s entire family on the sudden passing of a longtime friend. I have many good memories, especially in our early school years, the early years following graduation from OHS, Onalaska Fire Department, and so many happenings in the area. My belief is that there now is a grand reunion in Heaven of family, friends, and relatives who have gone before. RIP Jer. 🙏🏻❤️🙏🏻

    Reply
    • Judy Kehr

      So sorry for your loss.

      Reply
  2. Jackie Onsrud

    Steve and family,
    Bob and I are saddened to hear of your dad’s passing. We have fond memories of times spent with him.
    Feel our hugs❣️
    Love you…
    Bob and Jackie O!

    Reply
  3. Jeff Hillman

    Very saddened to hear about Jerry’s passing. Glad we have had the opportunity to have known him.

    Jeff & Rita Hillman

    Reply
  4. Floyd & Marge Briggs

    Our condolences, thoughts and prayers for the family.

    Reply
  5. Gary and Margo Jacob

    I’m sorry for your loss Steve, always enjoyed seeing your dad at Coulee.
    He was always a pleasure to be around

    Reply
  6. Lori Raabe

    The members of the former Onalaska Rotary would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Sjolander Family on the loss of Jerry. We honor his passion for making a difference as we remember his past service.

    Onalaska Rotary

    Reply
  7. Carol and Don Helgerson

    Steve, Sorry to hear about your dad. Enjoyed working with him at the Coulee. He was a great friendly guy.
    Sending prayers for you and the family.

    Reply
  8. Anita Jackson

    Colleen, you and your family are in our prayers! What a remarkable legacy your father has left. Love you, friend!

    Reply
  9. Berrier Family

    Colleen and Family-

    So Sorry for your loss of an amazing man. He’ll definitely be missed by many family members along with his community.

    Reply
  10. Nancy Schreier

    I can just imagine the look on Kathy’s face when Jerry appeared at the Gate of Heaven. We have lost a wonderful man and as we wave goodbye, others are waving Jerry into the Kingdom. Rest peacefully Jer you are in my prayers
    Nancy Osweiler Schreier

    Reply

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