At age 82, Jean died peacefully in a care suite near her retirement apartment in West St Paul MN. Her family thanks Health East Hospice for their truly caring staff and volunteers.
Jean will be missed by her family: daughter Nancy Wirsig McClure and her husband Martin (Portland OR), son John G. Wirsig III and his wife Lacy (Minneapolis), granddaughter and great-grandson Amanda Wirsig and Timothy Sticka (St Paul). She was preceded in death by her husband, John G. Wirsig Jr.
An informal, secular celebration of life will be held.
WHEN: Wednesday, July 1, 6:30 pm.
WHERE: meeting room at Westwood Ridge, 61 W Thompson Ave, West St Paul (Jean's last residence).
Memorials preferred to the John G. Wirsig Memorial Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin River Falls: online at www.uwrf.edu/give (under other enter scholarship name; under comments enter "In memory of Jean Wirsig"). You may write to the family c/o Nancy at 10839 SW 55th Ave, Portland OR 97219
Jean C. Wirsig
May 21, 1933 - June 25, 2015
College professor, volunteer, wife and mother, needlepoint artist, birder, world traveler
Jean Claire Davis was raised in Lincoln NE by her grandmother, Emma Greenhalgh (along with her brother, the late Harry Davis, of Tucson AZ). She was a valedictorian at Lincoln High School. At the University of Nebraska she was the first woman to graduate with a double major in math and physics. She fondly recalled a college summer job with the YWCA in Estes Park CO.
She married John Garold Wirsig Jr (Gary), originally of Sergeant NE, in Lincoln in 1954. After two years of Air Force they moved to St Paul MN so he could work for 3M. They raised two kids there and in Stillwater and St Mary's Point.
When the kids reached school age, Jean learned to drive and began volunteering. She was an organizing volunteer for the Girl Scouts in St Paul. In Stillwater, she worked with Meals on Wheels and services for the developmentally disabled.
The family of four travelled all over the US and Canada on camping trips, visiting National Parks and historic sites. (The caricature at left is from Disneyland in 1967.)
In 1970 Jean earned a Master of Arts in Teaching and was a substitute teacher in Stillwater Catholic and public schools.
After Gary's death in 1978, she lived in River Falls WI and was a professor (math and computer science) at UWRF. She also lived in Lake Elmo.
Jean retired in West St Paul. There, she was a long-time volunteer at Dodge Nature Center and a program preparing taxes for low income people; she served as an officer of the Minnesota and St Paul Audubon Societies; more recently she volunteered at the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area visitor center. She also made regular donations to favored causes, including St. Paul Audubon, DARTS (Dakota Area Resources and Transportation for Seniors), and Habitat for Humanity.
Jean was an inveterate traveler into her 70s. She drove her RV every summer to wilderness areas, especially in the Rocky Mountains. She went on many birding trips and Elderhostels around the US. She traveled to every continent (except Antarctica), often with her friend, the late Vi Russell of Stillwater. Her travelogue slide shows entertained retirees in communities around the area. She often had season tickets for concerts (especially the St Paul Chamber Orchestra) and plays.