Jerry Schroeck stepped gently out of this lifetime on June 21, 2022, at the age of 81, at his home in beautiful Wiscoy Valley, Winona, Minnesota. His departure on the Summer Solstice was fitting for Jerry as he loved summer and worshipped the sun! Jerry died of cancer and his family cared for him in his final days in the home he built. He was diagnosed with Mesothelioma (terminal lung cancer) 1 year ago. In the last year he continued to do all the things he loved, especially spending time with friends and family at home and at the cabin. He is survived by his wife and partner Gail Testor, daughter Melissa Schroeck, son Jason Schroeck (Sara), grandson Jerron Schroeck, brother John Schroeck (Julie), sister Laurie Ginkel (Tom), nieces and nephews Jamie Schroeck (Olga), Jessie Schroeck (Lena), Adam Ginkel (Beto), Jenny Dahl(Pete) and many other friends and family.
Jerry was born in New Ulm, Minnesota on January 14, 1941, to James Alfred Schroeck and Charlotte Norma Paulson. He was the eldest of three siblings and grew up in New Ulm where he graduated from High School. In 1961 he joined the United States Marine Corp and in 1962 was a marine on one of the ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1964 he was honorably discharged as a Lance Corporal. After the military Jerry lived for some time in California. There he enjoyed surfing, scuba diving, sky diving and motorcycle riding. He spoke often about those years and told great stories about his many adventures there.
In the late 1960’s Jerry moved back to Minnesota and attended Mankato State University and earned a master’s degree in education. He married Brenda LeBert in 1968 and they had two children, Melissa and Jason. They settled in the St Cloud area where Jerry worked as a High School Sociology Teacher for many years. The couple identified themselves as hippies. During the summer of 1976 the family went on an adventure traveling throughout the western United States. In 1977 Jerry and Brenda went their separate ways. Jerry then moved to Wiscoy Valley near Winona, MN and joined the Land Cooperative where he would live for the rest of his life. There he realized his dream of living an environmentally sustainable lifestyle with a community of like-minded individuals.
In Winona, Jerry worked at City Hall as an Energy Conservationist and he also worked for a few years at Winona State University as a Sociology Professor. Around this time, he met Gail Testor and they were married in 1982. Jerry designed and built their energy efficient, sustainably designed, solar powered home in Wiscoy. Jerry and Gail became employees and eventually co-owners in Prairie Moon Nursery where they both worked until retirement. Jerry and Gail enjoyed raising Melissa and Jason on the farm and were happily married for almost 40 years. Jerry loved spending time with his only grandson Jerron, sharing his values and family traditions. The family always enjoyed summer trips to the family cabin near the BWCA and annual Testor family vacations at Madeline Island in July.
Jerry lived a life full of adventures and was truly a dedicated family man who lived his life with integrity. He lived the values he professed and worked hard his entire life even throughout his retirement. He enjoyed reading, cooking, gardening, biking, roller blading, swimming, boating, canoeing, relaxing happy hours on the deck, and spending time with his family and friends at the pond on the farm and the cabin. He accomplished so many things and mastered many skills during his lifetime. Jerry was a loving husband, father, grandfather and son. He was an environmentalist, animal lover, teacher, professor, mentor, architect, engineer, carpenter, mechanic, plumber, nature lover, organic gardener, business owner, conversationalist and a great debater. He will be forever missed by his friends and family. We hope his spirit journey will be peaceful, as the last words he spoke at the end of his final days were “I like this.”
The family is planning a private memorial service for family and friends later this summer. If you wish to contribute in Jerry’s memory, please consider a donation to one of the following organizations that were important to Jerry.
The Gunflint Trail Fire Department: www.gunflint911.org
The Sun Magazine: Thesunmagazine.org
Online condolences or memories may be left for Jerry’s family at www.watkowski-mulyck.com.
Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.