Jay Tornquist


Jay R. Tornquist, 63, of Willmar, died Monday, November 9th. His celebration of life service will be at 11:00 am, Saturday, November 21st at Living Hope Evangelical Free Church in Willmar. Visitation will be from 5-8:00 pm, Friday at the church and continue one hour prior to his service. Burial will be in Hillside Cemetery in Kerkhoven. Jay’s service will be livestreamed at Arrangements are with Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar.

Jay Richard Tornquist was born on June 30, 1957, in Benson, MN, the son of Richard Leonard Tornquist and Kathryn Jane (Nelson) Tornquist. He grew up in Kerkhoven and graduated from Kerkhoven High School in 1975. He then attended Bethel College in St. Paul, where he graduated in ’81 and also where he met his future wife, Kathleen Ann Bergstrom. They got married in 1981 at Northwestern College. He and Kathy moved to Lutsen, MN where they had their first child, Jay Peter in 1984. They lived in Lutsen from 1981-1985, then moved to Minneapolis, MN from 1985-1988, where they had their second child, Hannah Frances in 1987. In 1988, Jay and his family moved back to his hometown of Kerkhoven where they resided until 1998 and also had their third child, Abby Kathleen in 1995. Lastly, in 1998, they moved to their current residence in Willmar and had their fourth and final child, Nathan Bruce.

Jay had been a loyal and beloved employee of Willmar Electric Service for the last 24 years. Previous jobs included being a Youth Pastor at Kerkhoven Evangelical Free Church, coaching football at KMS high school, and teaching at Community Christian School in Willmar. He was active in his church, teaching Bible Instruction Class for years and was also on the elder board at Living Hope.

Jay loved being active - he spent countless lunch breaks playing noon ball at the city auditorium. He enjoyed sports and fantasy leagues and the fellowship that those brought him with his friends and family. He spent many, many hours attending his children’s sports games, theater shows, school performances, piano recitals - supporting them in anything they wanted to do or try. He thoroughly enjoyed helping people and fixing things for others. He loved to take his family on trips - road trips, camping, work trips, and the annual fishing trip to Canada.

Although Jay enjoyed all of these things, his absolute FAVORITE place to be was up at his cabin on Leaf Lake with his family. He loved fishing, patiently teaching his kids and grandkids how to put on their own worms (but doing it every time anyways), drinking his cup of dark roast Folger’s coffee with his toast in the chilly summer mornings, taking his beautiful wife on evening boat rides, making campfires, doing little projects each summer and soaking up every single minute of every single sunset.

Jay miraculously overcame leukemia in 2016. Since then, he has not only been cancer- free, but was determined to live every day to the fullest and for God’s glory. When asked how he was doing, he would say, “Every day is a blessing!” He was a devoted and affectionate husband, the most loving and supportive father to his kids, a cherished grandfather - “Opa”, the solid rock of his family, a loyal friend, a wise teacher, and the best listener in the world. He had a special way of making every individual feel seen and welcome, and could give a positive perspective to any situation. He was so many things to so many people and will be deeply missed on this earth.

Jay is survived by his wife, Kathy Tornquist; children: Peter (Megan) Tornquist, Hannah (Joseph) Hannig, Abby Tornquist, and Nathan (Madie-fiancé) Tornquist; grandchildren: Noah, Ben, Levi, Dutch, and Meadow. He is also survived by his father Richard Tornquist, brother Rod (Carol) Tornquist and his sister Sheila Hanson; along with many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Kay Tornquist.

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