Giving W’bago their all…
Jerry and Jane Poole have lived in the Winnebago area all of their lives. Jerry grew up inside the city and Jane grew up just outside of Huntley. The two met when they sang together in the First Baptist Church choir as high school students. Come this October, the couple will be married 59 years.
“We have done a lot of church work. Jane was the choir director for 10 years and we both sang in the choir since high school,” Jerry says.
Together, they have raised four children in the same home they still reside in on the south side of Winnebago. As Winnebago community members, the Poole’s have donated countless hours of their time to helping friends and neighbors throughout the decades.
That is why the Winnebago Economic Development Authority chose to induct the couple into the Winnebago Hall of Fame. The induction will be held at the Winnebago Municipal Center Saturday, July 26, from 2-4 p.m.
The Pooles volunteer in many ways, but most significantly, they volunteer for Parker Oaks by sewing labels on the residents’ clothing, delivering meals for Meals on Wheels Monday through Friday every fifth week, and Jane volunteered for the Food Shelf for more than 10 years.
“We just like to do for others,” Jane says.
Jane worked as a nurse in the Winnebago Hospital for 20 years. Later, she moved on to work for Dr. John Anderson in Blue Earth for 20 years and then finished her career in Mapleton for another five years. While at the Winnebago Hospital, she served on the hospital board for eight years. She retired in 1992, but continues to help others through volunteer work.
In her free time, Jane enjoys making quilts and has made a quilt for each of her four children and 10 grandchildren. She has even made baby quilts for her four great-grandchildren.
Jerry worked for the Winnebago Water Department for 30 years, was a volunteer firefighter for 24 years, worked for the ambulance crew for eight years and was the weather observer for 13 years. Jerry has also been on the Winnebago Museum Board for 14 years and counting.
Before Jerry began working for the Water Department, he spent four years in the Air Force as an aircraft mechanic.
“I went in 1955 and was out in 1959, so it was during peace time,” Jerry says.
Once he returned from the Air Force, Jerry asked his uncle to help him find an outdoor hobby. His uncle got him started in searching for Native American artifacts and that is how Jerry became involved with the Winnebago Museum.
“Between me and my sons, we have over 1,000 artifacts displayed at the museum,” Jerry says.
Jerry has been able to mix his hobby of collecting artifacts with his volunteer work.
“I’ve really enjoyed being on the museum board,” Jerry says. “It’s interesting to see these old things brought in and put on display.”
The collector also spends quite a bit of time tending to his light blue 1951 Studebaker Starlight Coupe.
“My father was a Studebaker dealer here in Winnebago and then in Blue Earth,” Jerry says. “He had the dealership there from 1949 to 1956, so that’s pretty much where I got started with Studebakers.”
The Pooles display the Studebaker at Moto Fest each year, but simply displaying the car isn’t all they have done for the festival in the past the couple began working on the Moto Fest Committee shortly after the event began in 1979.
“We were on the Moto Fest Committee for a number of years. We did registration and Jerry judged the cars,” Jane says.
Today, they still head out to the festival each year to see the cars, participate in the events, and most importantly, to catch up with friends.
“We like to see a lot of old friends,” Jane says. “A lot of people come home for Moto Fest.”
As naturally active community members, the Pooles don’t necessarily look at their volunteer work as an accomplishment, but more as a way of life. When their grandson (the mayor of Winnebago), Jeremiah Schutt, told his grandparents the good news of their being honored, the couple was completely taken aback.
“We were so shocked,” Jane says. “We both cried.”
Their induction into the Hall of Fame will not change their volunteer habits and they will continue to help their friends and neighbors wherever they can.