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In Memoriam ~ Jerome “Jerry” Belair, ’52

Jerome (Jerry) Gabriel Belair, age 83, died Saturday, July 15, 2017 surrounded by his loving family at his home in Princeton, MN. Born in Minneapolis on February 27, 1934 to Gabriel and Beatrice (Zehnter) Belair, Jerry was raised in a devout Catholic family that instilled in him a strong faith as well as the family’s shared love for music. A self-taught, talented musician, Jerry could often be found relaxing or entertaining his family by playing the organ, accordian, harmonica, or melodica.

Jerry met Bonita Jane Antell while the two of them worked at John W. Thomas & Co. Department Store in Minneapolis and they married on September 12, 1953 at Saint Charles Borromeo Church. Soon thereafter, Jerry began active duty in the navy and he and Bonni devoted themselves to raising eight children. The family moved to Princeton in 1976, whereupon Jerry became an active member of Christ Our Light church and a member of the local American Legion.

Enjoying the construction business, Jerry was a hard worker with a strong work ethic who estimated costs and oversaw the building of roads and bridges in MN, which he did until he retired at the age of 72. Taking pride in the many projects of his long career, he would oftentimes point out the structures and roadways he’d been involved in building throughout the Twin Cities. Jerry was committed to instilling his own strong work ethic in his children and was fortunate enough to spend many years working alongside his sons, as well as several additional young people he mentored towards careers in the industry.

Among Jerry’s favorite pastimes were frequent family gatherings and celebrations where he would treat those he loved to his famous BBQ ribs, his favorite dish of chow mein, or freshly fried fish from a recent outing. A passionate and accomplished fisherman, Jerry loved to plan the family’s annual fishing trip to Portage Lake where children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would gather for a fishing contest to and create unforgettable memories of shared time together on the lake. Whether the heat of summer or the dead of winter, his preferred way to spend his free time was with a line in the water and loved ones at his side.

Jerry will be deeply missed by his wife of 64 years, Bonni; his children, Eugene “Butch” (Linda),
Jerolyn “ChiChi” Oliver, Bradley (Lynn), Ronald (Delores), Lorilyn Rose, Thomas (Sue), Jacquelyn (Curt) Winkelman and Lynn (Tom) Hunn; 24 grandchildren; 40 great-grandchildren; brother, Lawrence (Kathleen) Belair; sister, Bernadette (Dennis) Mitchell; a host of nieces, nephews and other relatives. He will also be missed by classmates from Jerry’s early school days at Saint Charles, Saint John’s Preparatory, De La Salle, and Edison. Throughout the years they remained loving and loyal friends and a treasured part of his life.

Jerry was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Father Eugene Belair; brother and sister-in-law, Karyl and Phyllis Scherf; and great-grandson, Blake Creswell.

A gathering of Jerry’s family and friends will be held on Tuesday, July 18 from 4-7PM at Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home in Princeton with a Prayer Service at 5:30PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Christ Our Light Catholic Church in Princeton at 11 am on Wednesday, July 19, with visitation one hour prior to the service at the church. Internment will be in the Assumption Cemetery in St. Cloud following a luncheon.