WW 9'8'16 OBIT Hermsen     Jean Jessie Hermsen passed away Aug. 29, 2016, at Fairhaven.

A woman who so loved Whitewater that she moved to the community three times over the course of her life, first in 1946-49 as the young bride of Leon (Hermie) Hermsen, the love of her life, while he completed his college education after serving in World War II; next in 1957 to 1985 as a young mother when Hermie accepted a teaching post with the Business School at UW-Whitewater, and; lastly when she moved to Fairhaven in 2005 and resumed playing bridge with Whitewater friends.

During her years in Whitewater, she was a member of The Faculty Dames and P.E.O., an Honorary Member of Delta Pi Epsilon, an avid golfer, a wonderful dancer, a creative seamstress and ikebana flower arranger, taught hat-making classes, sang in the First Congregational Church choir, was a Girl Scout leader, a cross country skier, traveled with her family to Gulf Shores Alabama with scores of other Whitewater families every spring vacation, camped throughout the country and loved her family and friends dearly.

Jean was born Sept. 20, 1921, in Oconto, the daughter of William and Louise Telford. She graduated from Oconto High School in 1939 and went on to become the Secretary of the Superintendent of Schools in Oconto when her plans to attend Carroll College were interrupted by her mother’s illness and death. She was Secretary to President R.C. Williams at UW-Whitewater from 1946-1949 and continued to support Dr. Williams when he retired and served on Accreditations Boards. Hermie was Assistant Dean of the School of Business and Economics at UW-Whitewater, much beloved by students and faculty, when he passed away while playing volleyball with his friends on campus on Sept. 8, 1977. The pair had almost finished building their retirement home on Kelly Lake in northern Wisconsin, a wonderful family gathering place for over 40 years now.

Following Hermie’s death, Jean established a new career in the financial world, inspiring and empowering women to take charge of their financial matters. She worked for First State Savings, later known as First Financial from 1979 to 1986, relocating to Waukesha in 1985. She next took those skills to First Interstate Bank, where she was Director of Women’s Programs. Jean became an active seminar presenter and professional speaker, sensitivity trainer and bank-marketing consultant. She taught family budgeting classes at Alverno College in Milwaukee and was a member of the Wisconsin Speakers Association, the National Speakers Association, and the National Association of Bank Women. She also served on the Board of Directors of Bayland Telephone Company in Abrams, the Board of Directors of the Waukesha YWCA, and was a Tempo Milwaukee member. She enjoyed winter in Marco Island, Fla., travels to China and Europe and cruises through the Amazon and Panama Canal.

Jean and Hermie were a team in all they did, including creating a loving family for children, Chris (Linda Braun) of Bailey, Colo.; Louise (John Kaufman) of Hartland; and deceased sons, Patrick (Julie Brandt) of Fort Mill, S.C.; and Jesse (Tabitha Hambright) of Tega Cay, S.C., instilling in them the value in higher education and hard work, making the most of life, caring for others and using one’s talents to their fullest. It broke her heart again to lose her sons at ages 49 and 51 respectively after losing her husband at 56. She was a loving and inspirational grandmother to Zach, Adam, Josh, Aaron, Leon, Jacob; and step-granddaughter, Kisha; and her great grandchildren, Noah, Hattie, Indie, Asher, Mackey and Frankie, who paid her many cherished visits. She was the last in her generation of 11 Hermsens and their spouses and her sister, Doris Westergaard, Wausau, and brother, Robert Telford, Oconto, and their spouses. She enjoyed entertaining all those folks and their subsequent generations at her lake home on Kelly Lake, where she continued to spend her summers through 2013. Special thanks to her nieces and nephews who traveled to Whitewater to visit her, sent cards, homemade caramels, jams and pickled beets and provided many hugs.

A memorial service and gathering will be held at Fairhaven on Friday, Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m., preceded by a private graveside service at Hillside Cemetery in Whitewater. In lieu of flowers, please plant a flower. Gardenias, hydrangeas, peonies and irises were her particular favorites. Or send a memorial to the Fairhaven Foundation at www.fairhaven.org.

The family sincerely thanks the many wonderful and caring staff members at Fairhaven and in particular Lupe Garcia, an honorary Hermsen family member who made all of our mother’s days at Fairhaven sunny ones.

The Nitardy Funeral Home, Whitewater, is assisting the family. Please share your memories at www.nitardyfuneralhome.com.

 

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