Jerome H. Schoenborn, 87, St. Cloud
February 16, 1935 - September 9, 2022
It is with great sadness and supreme joy that the family of Jerome H. Schoenborn (87) announces his passing into eternal life with Jesus Christ. Jerry was born in Spring Hill, Minnesota on February 16, 1935 to Mary (Schultzetenberge) and Louis Schoenborn. He was the sixth of seven children and grew up on the family farm in Spring Hill. He developed an undying love of Jesus, a tireless work ethic, the perfect rhythm of the seasons, a love of nature and agriculture, a huge heart, a stubborn optimism and jovial spirit from his parents, relatives, siblings and friends during those formative years. He graduated from Melrose High School in 1952 and worked on the farm and in construction. In 1957 he met the love of his life and soulmate, Bernice Zimmermann, at the Granite City Coliseum ballroom in Waite Park. They were spectacular dancers and loved old time polka music. Jerry attended Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis and became a radio broadcaster. He worked at the station in Ely, Minnesota until he was drafted into the US Army in 1959. During his service he was stationed in Korea as part of the occupying force after the Korean War. Prior to leaving for Korea, Jerry and Bernice were married. They recently celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary.
After completing his military service, Jerry and Bernice settled on the northside of St. Cloud, Minnesota to be close to Bernice’s work at the St. Cloud Hospital. It was also near St. Paul’s Catholic Church and growing neighborhoods bursting with young families and children. Jerry worked in door-to-door sales selling water softeners. From that experience, he developed an incredible ability to connect with people. He learned the importance of a firm handshake, a smile, eye contact and doing what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. He and Bernice also purchased a farm in Spring Hill and he began crop farming. He loved the farm and farming with his brother David. He also purchased single family homes that he rented to college students. At one point he had the longest-standing rental license in St. Cloud.
In 1963, Jerry and Bernice welcomed their first child, Kathryn Marie, into the world. Three years later they welcomed Carol Ann and three years after that they welcomed Brian John. Their family was their absolute joy and they could be found each Sunday morning in the front row at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. Jerry was a longstanding lector, eucharistic minister and member of the Parish Council. He attended mass daily for most of his life, rising before dawn, attending church, picking up his wife from the St. Cloud Hospital (where she was the night Administrative Nursing Supervisor for 64 years) and then starting his day.
Jerry was a 40+ year hairy cell leukemia cancer survivor. In 1985, doctors at Mayo Clinic told him and his family that he had six weeks to live. The miracle of faith, love, a world-class nurse for a wife and modern medicine (he was one of the first people in the world on Interferon, a first-generation cancer drug) saved his life and gave him a sense of hope, positiveness and enthusiasm that was contagious. It inspired him to spend the last chapter of his work career setting up medical equipment for hospice patients. His ability to bring comfort and hope to those in the most dire of health conditions, and their families, was a supreme gift. He was doing God’s will on Earth.
Jerry adored his grandchildren Megan, Andrew, Spencer, Katelyn and John (and recently met his first great-grandchild Olive) and loved attending their activities and events, enjoying holidays with them and teaching them all the things he learned as a child. Like how to dance the polka, how to stake up a tomato plant, how to make sauerkraut, how to beat slot machines and how to greet someone with a firm handshake. He realized that the little things in life were truly the big things. Like seeing the first robin each spring, picking raspberries in the garden, watching the water freeze over on Big Watab Lake or finding shells on the beach on Marco Island, Florida. He was intensely curious and subscribed to the idea that there were always flowers for those looking for them. He was forever there to help everyone and anyone – and always with a smile and a joke. The mood was lifted when he entered the room. He was filled to the brim by the Holy Spirit and was never afraid to share his love of Jesus Christ with others. There is a hole left by Jerry’s passing that will never be filled. He is a member of that generation of exceptional men who are irreplaceable.
Jerry was preceded in death by his father Louis, mother Mary (Schultzetenberge), brothers Norbert and Arthur, sisters Hildagard (Schmiesing), Rosemary and Dorine (Illies), and survived by his brother David, brother-in-law Alcuin Illies and sister-in-law Lidwina Schoenborn.
Jerry is also survived by his truly extraordinary wife Bernice (Zimmermann), daughters Kathryn Ford-Ashouri (David) and Carol Zweber (Peter), son Brian, grandchildren Megan Cook (Alec), Andrew Ford (Alice), Spencer Zweber, Katelyn Schoenborn and John Schoenborn, and greatgrandchild Olive Cook.
The family would like to thank the teams at the VA Medical Center – St. Cloud and St. Cloud Hospital for their incredible commitment and care. They would also like to specifically thank JoAnn Schmidt and Angela Wallerich for their friendship and support. A private service is being planned. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent to the nursing program at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University, St. Joseph, Minnesota, in honor of Bernice and Jerry Schoenborn. Jerry will be buried at Saint John’s Abby Cemetery in Collegeville, Minnesota.