Jerry Relph, father of Dana Relph ’97
Jerry O. Relph, age 76, passed away on December 18th, 2020.
Jerry was born on September 4th, 1944 in Boston, Massachusetts to James and Laura (Steigner) Relph. He attended high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Carleton College in 1966. As a young man Jerry spent time as a smoke-jumper fighting wildfires out west. Jerry enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served his country from 1967 to 1970. He achieved the rank of First Lieutenant while serving as a commissioned officer in the Vietnam War. Jerry’s experience in the Marine Corps had a profound impact on his life, teaching him the value of leadership, discipline, and personal responsibility.
After his military service, Jerry worked for 3M where he met Colette Sarslow. They were married in 1972 and had two daughters. Jerry graduated from William Mitchell College of Law with a Juris Doctor in 1974. He practiced law in St. Charles, MN both in private practice and as a city attorney. In 1984 Jerry moved with his family to St. Cloud, MN where he continued to practice law focusing on business, real estate, municipal, and tax law. Jerry also taught part time at St. Cloud State University. After his first wife’s passing in 1999, Jerry began the transition away from law and in 2002 became a part-owner in LakeMaster, a small lake mapping business. In 2001 Jerry was reacquainted with widow Margaret Ann “Pegi” Broker. In 2002 they married and he became stepfather to her four children. After selling his portion of the LakeMaster business in 2012, Jerry continued to consult with the company and officially retired from LakeMaster in 2015.
His increasing political involvement led to a run for public office. Jerry was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 2016 representing District 14 – St. Cloud, Waite Park, St. Augusta, and Haven and Minden townships. In the final four years of his life, Jerry served the people of Minnesota with tenacity and heart. He had a passion for helping the most vulnerable; especially the elderly, the young, and those living with disabilities. Jerry was extremely honored to be presented Legislator of the Year in 2020 by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Jerry was known and admired for his ability to reach across the aisle when delivering results for local projects and initiatives. He was committed to the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Jerry’s commitment to Minnesota’s most vulnerable populations was honored with the passing of a bill he authored this year providing personal care attendant rate reform. Among his other accomplishments, he is credited with chief authoring Minnesota’s first bill to fight Covid-19. The important topics surrounding Jerry’s work with the Senate included prenatal to age three policies, delivery of human services, aging and long-term care, judiciary, capital investment and local government. As a Senator representing the St. Cloud area, he always conducted himself with honesty, transparency, loyalty and integrity, never compromising his values. He cared deeply about his constituents and the community.
Jerry was an exceptionally kind, gregarious, and thoughtful person. His enthusiasm for learning translated into a position on the site planning committee for School District 742. He volunteered for many activities in the School District and greatly enjoyed participating in the after-school learning enhancement program. His lifelong service to the community also included volunteering and participating in the St. Cloud Lions Club, Anna Marie’s Alliance, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #290, VA, Boy Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, and numerous other local organizations. He was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman, and loved unwinding at his rustic Michigan cabin. He was a loving husband, a supportive and involved dad, and a fun-loving grandpa. Above all, he enjoyed sharing food, wine, and laughter in fellowship with friends new and old. Jerry will be deeply missed by so many.
He is survived by his wife Margaret “Pegi” Broker-Relph; his children Kerry (Shawn) Thompson and Dana Relph; stepchildren Laura (Wyatt) Kern, Carl Broker, Steven Broker, and Eric Broker; three grandchildren Jade, Flynn, and Dottie; and many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. Jerry is preceded in death by his parents and first wife Colette Relph.
A funeral service with military honors will be live-streamed at 11am on Friday, January 8th, 2021. The stream will be recorded and posted for later viewing. Access for the live stream and recording will be found at the Daniel Funeral Home website. There will be no public gathering or visitation. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be offered to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) www.namistcloud.com/donate.html or VVA St. Cloud Chapter #290 (Vietnam Veterans of America) www.vvachapter290.org.