Jean Carol Rekow, age 90, passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by her loving family on May 8th, four months after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Jean was born to Harry and Charlotte (née Nichols) Dresser on August 30th, 1929 in Winona, Minnesota. After graduating from Winona High School, Jean attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In December of her first year at college, Jean was an attendant in her friend’s December wedding when she met a handsome young man from Chaska, Minnesota who was standing up for the groom. Jean married Oliver Bertram Rekow one year later, on New Year’s Eve, 1949, in Winona, Minnesota. Oliver had recently begun a job at the First National Bank in Montevideo, MN and after a month-long honeymoon in Mexico, the young couple made Montevideo their home where they would raise a family of 5 children and live out the remainder of their lives.
In addition to raising 3 boys and 2 girls, Jean’s household was a haven for her beloved animals; dogs, cats, assorted fish and even (briefly) a mischievous spider monkey named Pepé. She loved to work in the yard, her rose garden was her favorite place to relax. Jean loved gathering with family and she and Ollie built a cabin in 1988 with enough room to house 3 generations of Rekows under one roof. Her love of travel inspired her to visit Israel, Africa, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica, the Arctic Circle, France, Belgium and around the US. Late winters were spent in Arizona where she eventually bought a home with a pool for her grandchildren to enjoy when they came to visit their much adored ‘Nana’.
Jean had a strong sense of community obligation and spent many years delivering Meals on Wheels and visiting residents of Luther Haven. She was an involved member of the First Congregational Church and belonged to the Q chapter of PEO for 57 years. She and Ollie established the Oliver B. and Jean C. Rekow Education Fund in 1998.
Jean was always up for an adventure even in her later years, accompanying her family to James Taylor and Simon and Garfunkel concerts, Gopher basketball games, Wild hockey games, Twins baseball in their new stadium, and even to see a Lynx basketball championship win. On her 90th birthday, Jean climbed into a float plane without reservation for a flight around the lakes near the cabin. On the day she was diagnosed with untreatable pancreatic cancer, she had her hair done, went to play bridge with her usual crew and watched a great Men’s Gopher basketball win that evening.
Oliver preceded Jean in death, passing away in August of 1998. She is survived by her children, Mark Rekow and Lynn Mader of Montevideo, James Rekow and Lynn Larson of Plymouth, Peter Rekow and Lisa Moran of Woodbury, Mary Rekow-Braun and Thomas Braun of Eden Prairie, Jane Rekow of Minneapolis, and her grandchildren, Marissa Rekow, Chloe and Christian Rekow, Alyssa (Derek Willems) and Michaela Rekow, Andrew and Matthew Braun, and Mattison Gisselbeck.
Many thanks to all who sent flowers and cards, kept the family fed, and showed up to wave to Jean through the window during her illness. Thank you to her hospice team who helped everyone navigate the challenge of caring for Jean at home. Their care, concern and guidance were an immeasurable gift to the family.
A memorial service will be held on August 28th at 11:00 AM at the First Congregational Church in Montevideo when we hope it will be safe to gather again. In lieu of flowers now or at the time of her memorial service, the family asks that you make a donation to the Oliver B. and Jean C. Rekow Education Fund or the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.