Jean was born to Jens and Edith Hansen in a rural farm home near Vermillion, SD. She was baptized as an infant and confirmed as a Christian in St. Peter Lutheran Church, Vermillion, SD on July 4, 1937. She graduated from high school as valedictorian in the class of 1941 then attended the Lutheran Bible Institute in Minneapolis for three years and Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD for one year majoring in education. She taught all eight grades in rural schools for two years. In 1947 she joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in Evanston, Illinois, and became quite involved in its activities. In 1955 she was called to serve as the national leader of the children’s branch serving ages 6-12, the Loyal Temperance Legion. Her work was to help other young women become leaders in their local areas and states. This allowed her to travel around the country, visiting 48 states over ten years.
In 1965 she met widower Lyle W. Burgess through the Christian Marriage Foundation. They married on May 15, 1965. Jean became mother to Douglas and Priscilla, forming an instant family. In her new life as wife and mother she continued to be active in the WCTU, holding various local and state positions. A gifted writer and artist, she authored several children’s temperance curricula which were widely adopted and used throughout the national organization over many years.
In addition to her temperance activities, Jean built up her home business as seamstress, making custom overcoats, three-piece suits, men’s shirts and ties as well as upholstery. She made eight wedding dresses, the prize one being her daughter’s. Added to all of this, Jean was very involved in the women’s ministries at their church, Hillside Free Methodist Church in Evanston, IL and later at the Woodstock Free Methodist Church, Woodstock, IL. In 1983 she and Lyle joined the Gideons. She enjoyed distributing Bibles and testaments, especially while a resident of Hearthstone Communities from 2002 to her death.
Jean was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 37, but kept a strict diet and maintained a positive attitude. She was a renowned baker of breads, pies, cakes and cookies for family and friends but had the self-discipline to resist enjoying her delicious treats. No doubt this was a big reason why she lived to just eleven days short of her 96th birthday.
Jean’s faith in Jesus Christ was a relationship, not a religion. She truly knew Jesus Christ as Savior and served Him as Lord until her final breath. All who knew her have no doubt that He welcomed her into His kingdom with open arms, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Jean is survived by her husband, Lyle Burgess; son, Doug Burgess (Penny); daughter, Priscilla Madsen (Karl) and grandchildren Shannon Silver (Brennan), Adam Burgess (Jesse), Olivia Madsen; great grandchildren Theo, Colin and Wyatt Silver; sisters Dorothy Mandsager, Devona Swiggum and Corinne Chilstrom (Herb) and many loving nieces and nephews.
A private burial service will be held at Lusk Memorial Cemetery May 13th in Albany, Illinois, with coincident small service at Hearthstone Manor, Woodstock, Illinois. A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, June 21, 2019 at 10:30 am at Woodstock Free Methodist Church, 934 N. Seminary Avenue in Woodstock.
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