Gertrude Jurgensen

Obituary of Gertrude Irene Jurgensen

Gertrude Jurgensen, 98, of Dowagiac, passed away at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo on Sunday, August 18, 2019.


Gertrude was a strong adventurous, athletic, inquisitive person, who loved her family, friends, home, traveling, a collector of coins and stamps, and she was always ready to play any game. Gertrude was born on August 4, 1921, to the late Merl and Marie Loehr, on Orchard Street in Dowagiac, Michigan where she was the youngest of three children. Gertrude graduated from Dowagiac Central High School in 1939, where she was an active member of the tennis team. She attended Western Michigan College, where she majored in English and Physical Education.  While at Western Michigan college she played first singles on the Women’s Tennis Team.  In December of 1942, she graduated with her teaching degree and began her first teaching assignment in Wyoming Park, Michigan.


Gertrude married Gale Jurgensen on December 28, 1942, at her home, before he left for officer training with the United States Army. Gertrude finished out that year in Wyoming and then returned home as World War II was in full swing.  She worked as a telegrapher for the Michigan Central Railroad where she also assisted in checking people in or out and making sure the cargo was correct.  She loved this job and had the added bonus of being able to work with her father. 


She was also active in the Eastern Stars and a member of the old Federated Church, which her father helped rebuild after a fire destroyed part of the church.  In 1946, Gertrude rode on the train to California where she boarded a cargo ship, also called a banana boat, to Hawaii to meet Gale in Honolulu where he was stationed.  While there they enjoyed Hawaii until Gale was released from the Army and the two returned to Dowagiac.  When they returned home they lived in an apartment over the pool hall in downtown Dowagiac for a year until they bought a home on Oak Street.


Gertrude was a stay at home mom who raised her two children, Krin and Charles, until the winter of 1956.  That is when an opening became available to teach at Justus Gage.  Gertrude jumped at the chance.  After that year she moved to teach at Patrick Hamilton.  She stayed there teaching fourth grade for a few years before moving to Lincoln and then to the Dowagiac Middle School where she taught English.  During this entire time, Gertrude was taking classes from Michigan State to earn her Master’s Degree as a reading specialist.  She was one dissertation away from completing her Doctorate Degree when she transferred schools one last time.  This time she went to Dowagiac High School to teach reading; she stayed until her retirement in 1983.


Gertrude was an avid golfer, tennis player, and even a volleyball coach in her spare time.  After her retirement, she traveled all over the world with her daughter Krin.  She rode a camel in Egypt with a dress on, went on a safari in Africa where she slept in a tent by the lion’s watering hole, spent time in a sauna in Finland, tangoed in Argentina, ate kimchi in Korea and was game for whatever adventure came her way.  She continued to exercise, golf, and play bridge for as long as she was able.  Gertrude lived every day of her life to the fullest for 98 years and will be missed by all who knew her, it didn’t matter if she was friend, teacher, competitor, mom, or grandma.


She was preceded in death by her parents, Merl and Marie Loehr; siblings, Evelyn Kelly and Stewart Loehr; and husband, Gale Jurgensen.


Gertrude is survived by her children, Krin Jurgensen of Dowagiac and Charles “Chuck” Jurgensen of Sturgis, Michigan; grandson, Jeffrey (Rebecca) Talbert, and their children Hailey and Savannah, all of Portland, Maine, granddaughter, Kristen (Robert Gulley) Talbert, and their children Shadden and Kealana, all of Vacaville, California, and grandson Dr. Ryan (Dr. Serena Zhou-Talbert) Talbert and their son Makaio, all of Carrboro, North Carolina; and many extended family members and close friends.


Gertrude’s family will be hosting a memorial service on Saturday, September 21, 2019, at Saron Lutheran Church, located at 510 Main Street in St. Joseph, beginning at 11:30 a.m.


Memorial donations may be made in Gertrude’s memory to the Dowagiac Area History Museum located at 201 East Division Street in Dowagiac or Saron Lutheran Church in St. Joseph.

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Memorial Service

11:30 am
Saturday, September 21, 2019
Saron Lutheran Church
510 Main Street
St. Joseph, Michigan, United States
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