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Jerry Lange, 90, of Muscatine, passed away Monday, January 8, 2024 at UnityPoint Health-Trinity Rock Island Hospital. A funeral service will be held at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, January 15, 2024 at Grace Lutheran Church in Muscatine with a visitation from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. on Monday. Interment will be held at Muscatine Memorial Park Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to the Jerry Lange Scholarship with the Muscatine High School or to the Grace Lutheran Church in Jerry’s memory. Sympathy notes may be left for the family at www.sandhfuneralservice.com.
Jerry Winfield Lange was born May 15, 1933 in Muscatine, Iowa, the son of Henry Edward and Nellie Vera (Brown) Lange. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Elementary Education and an MA degree in School Administration in 1961. Jerry was united in marriage to Mary L. Byers on November 20, 1971 in Muscatine. She preceded him in death June 26, 2005.
Jerry was a life-long resident of Muscatine. He resided in the family home for seventy-eight years until retiring to the country where he thoroughly enjoyed a magnificent view of the Mississippi River Valley.
Jerry devoted his adult lifetime to educational service in his community and rural Muscatine. His educational career began as a teacher at Corwin School south of Muscatine. His long-term commitment to education in Muscatine began in 1954 at Madison where he taught grades 5 and 6 and served as a part-time principal. He continued as building principal at Franklin, Jefferson and Washington Schools.
During more than two decades of education service, Jerry was the Migrant Summer Program Director, a well-recognized supplemental educational experience for children of migrant parents while the parents were working in the fields harvesting summer crops. Some of the highlights of his tenure as a school administrator include undergoing accreditation process at Jefferson School, the first building among nine elementary schools to undergo the program.
While at Franklin School, Jerry worked with staff to develop a quarterly skills report card which gave parents a report of improving specific skills in place of standard grades.
During his tenure at Washington School, he restructured classrooms at each grade level. He introduced the Read-A-Million free book program to Jefferson and Washington Schools, the only two schools selected to adopt the program.
Jerry co-authored the very first school district report card which was required of each district. He also presented the report card as a speaker at a statewide conference in Des Moines.
After 43 years as a Muscatine school administrator, he retired and immediately began an 8-year stint on the Muscatine School Board. Jerry was a lifelong learner who never failed to gain new knowledge from his many and varied life time experiences. While retired, he also was elected to service two terms on the Muscatine City Council while also serving two terms on the school board, including serving as board president. He co-authored a study on the use of hand-held calculators and was invited to report the results during a national math convention in Austin, Texas.
Additionally, Jerry served two terms on the Muscatine Historic Commission and a short term as a civil service commissioner. He also was elected as a president of the Morning Optimist Club.
While his children were young, the family enjoyed many soirees to various scenic and educational locations among our states. While retired, in addition to his civic involvement, he was grateful for the opportunity to welcome members of the Muscatine YMCA, which resulted in many lasting friendships. Of special significance during his senior years were the travels to faraway places with his wife, Mary, and friends Pat and John Lueders. He especially enjoyed visiting historical locations in Europe.
Jerry was a lifetime member of Grace Lutheran Church where he was baptized and confirmed. He was involved during his active years of service as a youth church director, council member, and Financial Secretary for more than 20 years.
Jerry took special pride in maintaining a well landscaped yard and garden, as well as lighting the distinctive features of his pre-Victorian home. Undoubtedly his favorite pastime, which required weeks of preparation, was assembling his outdoor Christmas display and indoor decorating utilizing a Victorian theme.
Over the years, dozens of volunteers enabled Jerry to continue his holiday lighting show. His Christmas lighting tradition for nearly 40 years was constantly changing and growing; he greatly appreciated being referred to as “Mr. Christmas” by admirers of his holiday display.
He was especially grateful to Jane Evans, his running trainer and friend who introduced him to the joy of running when a change in his lifestyle became a health necessity. During the most difficult periods of his life, the Karkosh family: Gary, Betty, Angela and Josh; as well as special friend Mary Hildebrandt (his “Uber” driver), were able to restore Jerry’s faith in himself and God for which he was forever grateful. He also appreciated the neighborly gestures and homemade food from Don and Barb Brooke and the special care given by Rose Schultz over the last three years. He will be deeply missed by his Sheltie dog, Friskey.
Jerry desired to positively impact the lives of others, including students, parents, friends and constituents. Hopefully in some way he did achieve his goal.
He is survived by his son, Lance (Michelle) Lange of Urbandale and their children, Kelsey of New York City, NY and Maddox of Urbandale; and his daughter, Dr. Erin Lange-Vandello and her daughter, Winter of Tampa, FL.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Nellie Lange, and his brothers, Donald and Edward Lange.