Jerry Harvey Zarnstorff passed away peacefully in his home on June 23, 2019. He was 82 years old.
Jerry, the son of Harvey and Rose (Borkenhagen) Zarnstorff, was born Sept. 15, 1936 in Bloomfield Wisconsin, where he remained a lifelong resident of the area. He never called his parents Mom and Dad, but rather by their first names, Harvey and Rose. He attended the one room grade school, Elderwood, before graduation from Badger High School in 1954.
As a younger man, Jerry worked at Honey Bear Farm, then as a carpenter and brick-layer. He also worked for Powers Lake Construction, and later, for Auto Lite where he began his career as an auto-machine repairman. He was interested in cars and travel.
During high school, he met Elaine Koldeway at the Hillside grocery store where she worked. Eventually she did allow him to take her out on a date, and they began to see each other regularly. After a while, she asked him if he thought that they should get married, and he did. When Jerry spoke with Elaine’s father and requested her hand in marriage, he was told that although he had given his other daughters away, Elaine would cost a boat and a motor. So Jerry and Elaine went out to find one. They brought him a tiny boat with a working motor, that could drive around in the bathtub. Jerry was then given permission to marry the love of his life. On September 28, 1957, he and Elaine were married at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Burlington. They were blessed with three children: Pete, Paul and Jackie.
Around 1957, Jerry began to work at the American Motors Company in Kenosha as a machine repairman. He became a member of the United Auto Workers Union and the International Association of Machinist Union. He worked at AMC for more than 30 years. He acted as a mentor in the apprenticeship program. He taught his children work ethic and rarely took a day off so that they could use his two weeks of vacation every year for family road trips. They traveled to nearly every state in the country making amazing memories, taking photographs, and collecting interesting travel souvenirs.
In 1966, he began work on the new house and they moved in in 1967. He said that it was built by yoyo, or the tape measure. He believed that every board should be measured twice and cut once. Jerry took pride in the fact that each wall, step and window is perfectly square. The kids remember living in the garage until the living room was ready and moving in there. Elaine said that they slept on the floor in every room in the house as soon as the new carpet was laid.
Jerry regularly donated blood and was also a registered bone marrow donor. He enjoyed socializing and playing cards. He shared his love of traveling, hunting, fishing and birdwatching with his children and grandchildren. He was also an avid reader of every kind of print and often read stories to his grandchildren when they were young. Although he was generally a reserved man, he could talk for hours about local history. He had a lot to say about national history and politics. Of course, he always had something to say about the right was to get a job done, and he would certainly let you know if yours was not it. He gave advice on everything from car and lawn maintenance, to keeping our finances in line. His love of collecting and rummage sailing has been passed on to the point where his grandchildren believe its “in the Zarnstorff blood.”
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Gwen “Bunny” Kraus; brother, Gordon Zarnstorff and son in law, Mike Brody. He is survived by his wife and rummage sale partner, Elaine; their children, Pete, Paul (Nadine) and Jackie Brody; seven grandchildren and Eleven great grandchildren.
By every measure of a man’s life, Jerry Zarnstorff was successful, loved and will be greatly missed.
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