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Jacquelyn (Jackie) Jessen

October 29, 1938 March 29, 2020
Jacquelyn (Jackie) Jessen
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Obituary for Jacquelyn (Jackie) Jessen

Jackie Jessen, 81, died peacefully in her home, surrounded by her family, on Sunday, March 29, 2020.

A private Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Mary Catholic Church in Vinton with Fr. Jim
Brokman as celebrant. Burial will be in the Cass Township Cemetery, Strawberry Point.

Jacquelyn Jeanne Mary Magdalene Chapman Jessen was born on October 29, 1938, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In third grade her family moved to Strawberry Point, Iowa, where she first met Terry Jessen, the young son of the town grocer, who was completely smitten with her.

Throughout her school years, Jackie worked with her mother, Marcella, in the kitchen and dining room of the Franklin Hotel Coffee Shop, resulting in mad potato and carrot peeling skills. It was also her responsibility to ready her younger sisters, Judy and Sharee, for school, including braiding their hair. We suspect this was the reason she always preferred short hair.

At Strawberry Point High, Jackie was a cheerleader, saxophone player, drum majorette, and swim instructor/lifeguard at Backbone State Park. She excelled in speech and drama. She also dated Terry Jessen in high school. A few times. They did NOT go steady.

Jackie continued on the stage at Mount Saint Clare College, where she received her teaching certificate. Following college, Jackie taught for one year at Lisbon Schools, and wrote long, scorching letters to Marine Corps corporal Terry Jessen. She then returned to Strawberry Point to teach sixth grade.

After teaching at Strawberry Point for one year, she married Terry Jessen on June 8, 1961, and settled down to have babies. Those babies did not arrive right away, so Jackie enjoyed teaching for 3 ½ more years.

In 1964, Marcy arrived, followed quickly by John, Jenny, Suzy, Tommy, Nicky, and Molly. Jackie breastfed when it wasn’t cool, and spent her life promoting breastfeeding for mothers and infants. Her two favorite books were The Art of Natural Family Planning and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Throughout her lifetime she made it her mission to gift copies of those books to young mothers. Indeed, just a few months before her death, she had her daughter purchase the breastfeeding manual from Amazon so she could give it to one of her favorite nurses at the cancer center.

First and foremost, Jackie was a wife and mother. Lunch was on the table when the noon whistle blew, dinner at 5:30 sharp, beds were made (usually), clothes were pressed, and the white baby and toddler shoes were polished every Saturday night for Sunday morning Mass.

Yet still Jackie found time for coffee and raucous laughter with friends, bridge club, teaching CCD, church boards, archdiocesan boards, and she served on the Starmont school board. Jackie was instrumental in the building of the Strawberry Point swimming pool and was head of Red Cross swimming lessons and swim team coach for years.

In the early 1980s, Jackie opened The Mustard Seed on main street in Strawberry Point. She loved sharing her faith in God, recommending books, and chatting with customers at her religious book and gift store. This vocation also inspired many, many, many, many Christmas, birthday, anniversary, and graduation gifts for her children.

In the 1990s, Terry retired from Jessens Super Valu and Jackie sold her shop. They spent a few years traveling and making pilgrimages to holy cities and apparition sites. Terry and Jackie managed the Super 8 in Knoxville, Iowa for one year before becoming a selling team for Love and Associates, and settling in Vinton. At this point, their main occupation became attending swim, cross country, and track meets, baseball, softball, volleyball, basketball, and football games, musicals and plays, and show choir and speech events for their 25 grandchildren.

In Vinton, Terry and Jackie joined St Mary Catholic Church and quickly became active parishioners, teaching RE, initiated Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, rosary prayer groups, and many Bible study groups. As Jackie regularly sent handwritten cards and letters to loved ones throughout her life, it was only natural for her to take on the task of sending birthday salutations to elderly parishioners.

Jackie’s legacy is her family and that family reaches well beyond genetic ties. Those who loved her number many, but especially her beloved husband of 59 years, Terrence, her children, Mary Marcel (Gerald) Horst, John (Erika) Jessen, Jennifer (Don) Staver, Susan (Randy) Hamlett, Thomas (Kristen) Jessen, Nicholas (Erika) Jessen, and Margaret Bagby, and grandchildren, Erin, Clare (Drew Chapman), Patrick, Megan, Emma, Lily, and Grace Horst, Jack and William Jessen, Samantha, Caitlin, Nicholas, Alicia, and Olivia Staver, Nathanael (Sara), Michael, Gabriel, Ella, and Anna Hamlett, Avery and Wyatt Jessen, Mila and Ian Jessen, Madeline and Elizabeth Bagby, and great grandchildren, Nora, Julia, and Graham Chapman.

She is also greatly missed by her loving sisters and brother, Judith Harris, Sharee Chapman, and Gerold (Dorothy) Chapman.

Jackie was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Marcella Chapman, and her sister, Patricia.

Memorials will be directed to St. Mary Catholic Church in Vinton and the Hall Perrine Cancer Center in Cedar Rapids.

Van Steenhuyse-Russell Funeral Home is caring for Jackie and her family. Condolences may be left at


Event Information

Services are private.

Cemetery Details


Cass Township Cemetery Final Resting Place

E Mission Sreet
Strawberry Point, IA 52076

E Mission Sreet Strawberry Point 52076 IA
United States

Memorial Contribution

St. Mary Catholic Church,

2200 2nd Ave
Vinton, IA 52349

Hall-Perrine Cancer Center

701 10th St. SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52403

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