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Jeanette (Brouwer) Schelhaas was born on May 6, 1928 on her grandparents farm near Inwood, IA, to Jorienus Brouwer and Artie (Brands) Brouwer. Jeanette was the eldest of 11 children. The family farm was located two miles from town and Jeanette would walk with her siblings to school every day, rain, snow or shine. Jeanette loved school and was eager to learn. She successfully completed her education through the 8th grade before taking on responsibilities and helping on the family farm with chores and children. In 1942, her grandparents farm was sold and she moved with her family to a farm near Rock Valley, IA.
In 1946, Jeanette moved with her family to a farm near Edgerton, MN. She was united in marriage to John B. Schelhaas on March 11, 1948 on her parent’s farm and they celebrated their reception at the Memorial Hall in Edgerton with a square skip. Following their marriage, the couple moved to Todd County, SD. Two years later, the couple returned to Edgerton where John began farming.
Although it was -25 degrees on the day they were married, things heated up nicely and together they welcomed 12 beautiful children to their family: Arly, Rodney, Bruce, Ron, Doug, Sharon, Marsha, Joe, Phil, Jeff, Lori, and Kristi. Jeanette devoted her life to supporting her husband, including answering the phone for his grinding business for 10 years, and raising their children. Jeanette was a dedicated mother and with 12 children was the ultimate “momager” organizing and managing their busy schedules to ensure their household ran smoothly. She would take running errands like shopping and turn it into quality time spent with one or two children all the while creating special memories. Jeanette loved to cook and carefully scheduled out daily meals including special dinners where the family got to enjoy pot pies and homemade malts made with the old fashioned malt maker. She had a magical way of knowing just how much food to prepare to make sure her large family was taken care of. She enjoyed bringing the kids to John’s softball games, vacations to Iron Nation, and going to all the kids’ sporting events and activities. Jeanette was selfless and often stayed home with the younger children so that John could take the older kids fishing to Spring Creek, near Pierre, SD. She cherished the moments spent with her family during their Canadian fishing trips, though valuing her time spent with family over the catch of the day. When their children were grown, she spent many years traveling around southwest Minnesota with John, cheering on the JB’s and JG’s, the fastpitch softball teams that many of their children played for. John retired from hauling milk for the Edgerton Creamery in 1986 and in 1992 he and Jeanette moved to Ruthton, MN where they lived together until his passing in 2008. Jeanette remained in Ruthton and in 2021 moved to Tyler, MN.
Jeanette’s life centered around her faith. She was born into a Christ-honoring family where God’s word was read daily. She always loved listening to the pastors speak about the Bible and the love that God had for all others. Jeanette wanted to instill in all their children the importance of having a good relationship with God. She made a point to take her children to church as often as she could. Jeanette would have the family gather together in their living room to listen to Billy Graham. She was an active member of the First Reformed Church in Edgerton where she taught catechism and enjoyed attending and worshipping at ladies aid. She later became a member of the Ruthton Country Church. Jeanette was a prayer warrior and prayed for her family daily.
Nothing brought her more joy than being at family gatherings and watching her children and grandchildren laugh and joke about memories made and watching her great-grandchildren play together. She had an extraordinary memory that seemed almost superhuman. Her ability to recall and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries of all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren was truly remarkable. Her thoughtfulness extended beyond the ordinary, as she never missed an opportunity to send heartfelt cards. Her dedication to remembering and acknowledging these important milestones reflected her deep commitment to family and the importance of staying connected.
Jeanette attended as many events and activities of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as possible, always there to cheer them on and support them. Visits from Grandma were highly anticipated as it meant that she’d arrive bringing treats. Some of our favorites were her angel food cake (usually reserved for birthdays) as well as banana bars, rhubarb bars, and her famous no bake cookies.
Never one to be the center of attention, Jeanette preferred to be in the background providing that constant, strong, patient, supporting love that all of us knew and depended on. Her no-nonsense sense of humor had a way of effortlessly bringing smiles to everyone around her. Prioritizing others above herself, she never uttered a complaint. Regularly, we were recipients of her thoughtful gestures-newspaper and magazine clippings that she believed would capture our interest, or mementos she stumbled upon that held special significance for us.
Jeanette experienced great loss early in her marriage when son, Rodney, at age 14 months, passed away suddenly from an unknown cause. Losing Rodney was one of the hardest things she endured in her life, but from this loss, she also gained a greater appreciation for the time we have here and never took a moment for granted. She had so much love for everyone and appreciated every visit, every phone call, and every moment as a gift.
Jeanette spent the last week of her life in hospice care at the Avera Tyler Hospital. It was time that our family will forever treasure. We were able to enjoy conversations about our family history, memories, her faith, and thank her for being such a wonderful mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Jeanette especially enjoyed her visit with Pastor Frank and took comfort in the promise of what was to come. Of course it was still a gathering of Schelhaas’ which meant there were a lot of jokes, laughter, joy, and so much love shared with all. A true blessing.
As we mourn the loss of Jeanette, let us also celebrate the incredible legacy of love and memories she leaves behind. May her kindness, warmth, and the enduring impact of her thoughtfulness be a source of comfort and inspiration for all who had the privilege of being a part of her life. In her own words, “death isn’t a goodbye, it’s more of a see you soon.” Jeanette will forever hold a cherished place in our hearts, and her memory will continue to brighten our lives with the love she so generously shared.
Grateful for having shared her life are her children, Arly Schelhaas, Omaha, NE; Bruce (Dawn) Schelhaas, Balaton, MN; Ron (Frances Spickers) Schelhaas, Bettendorf, IA; Doug (Pat) Schelhaas, Aurora, CO; Sharon (Darwin) Sietsema, Ruthton, MN; Marsha (Rollie) Schulz, Canova, SD; Joe Schelhaas, Pipestone, MN; Phil (Bonnie) Schelhaas, Ruthton, MN; Jeff (Brenda) Schelhaas, Alexandria, MN; Lori (Marlo) DeJager, Doon, IA; and Kristi (Sid) Dunn, Sioux Falls, SD; 33 grandchildren; 70 great-grandchildren; brothers, Peter Brouwer and Albert Brouwer; sisters, Angeline Buysman and Maxine Johnson.
Jeanette was preceded in death by her parents; husband, John B. Schelhaas; son, Rodney Schelhaas; daughter-in-law, Mary Schelhaas; grandson, Bill Sietsema; grandson-in-law, Daryl Haase; and six siblings, Rena Halbersma, Jasper Brouwer, Gerrit Brouwer, John Brouwer, Darlene Jacobson, and Joe Brouwer