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Hazel Mae Jessen

Updated: Jun 23


Hazel Mae Jessen-mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt, wife, and friend-passed peacefully June 3, 2021, at the Prairie Hills Assisted Living Facility in Des Moines following a long illness.


Born May 3, 1938, at her parent’s home in Milford Township, Story County, Iowa, she was the third of five children born to Haaken Augustine and Elizabeth Mae Horness (Skeers).


Growing up a country girl, she tended the animals, helped raise the garden, and performed the myriad of other chores and activities that farm kids did and learned the work ethic that would serve her well in her later years. Attending the Milford Township School, she graduated in the class of 1956, which was composed of three girls and eight boys. Very active in the school and church community, she loved basketball, playing well into her forties and while growing up also gained the faith in our Lord that dictated the way she lived her life and treated others. Following graduation, she attended secretarial school and worked several years before she met and married James Theodore Jessen, Sr. on December 31, 1962. He brought three children, (two girls and a boy) to the marriage so by necessity and then love, her children immediately became her life. This marriage also produced three additional children. As Hazel often said her children were her greatest source of joy while providing every single one of her gray hairs. Residing in central and northeast Iowa while raising their family, Hazel ran the farm while Jim worked at John Deere. Upon Jim’s retirement, they moved to Shell Knob, Missouri where they lived for several years before divorcing. She spent the next ten years employed by Tyson’s Foods and working several different home health jobs. Returning to Iowa, she lived in Winterset, Iowa, continuing to work at a variety of jobs, until she finally did retire in 2010. Upon becoming ill, she resided in Des Moines until her death.


She enjoyed traveling and visited her family throughout the United States and internationally, traveling to Turkey, Moldova, and Germany where she actively supported her children and their children.


A Christian, Hazel attended church wherever she happened to reside-her belief in God was one of the constants in her life. One other constant was her love and care of animals. She lived with animals from the time she was a small child until her death-some were pets, some provided a living and some you ate but regardless she cared for them most often as if they were her own children.


She was preceded in death by her mother, Elizabeth, and father, Haaken; her older sister, Helen Uballe; her younger sister and brother, Maxine Stratton and Virgil Horness; her oldest son/daughter, James T. Jr./Debbie Lee Jessen, granddaughter, Leta Oelrich Schroeder, her former husband, James as well as in-laws, June Horness; Delores Horness; Frank Uballe; Donna (Jessen)Gilmore; and John and Janet Jessen.


She is survived by her oldest brother, Charles (Chuck) Horness; brother-in-law, Gary Stratton; sister-in-law, Janice Horness; brother-in-law, Peter B Jessen and wife, Grace, brother-in-law, Jerry Gilmore; daughters, Rebecca and Dale Daniels; Linda and James Oelrich; Brenda and Scott Ludtke; sons, Fred Jessen and Irina Fadeeva; Keith and Erin Cole Jessen; and a passel of grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins scattered throughout the United States. She will be missed. The family will hold her memorial service at 10:00 AM, June 26, 2021, at the Pleasant Grove Community Church, 56971 170th Street, Ames, Iowa 50010 with burial following at the Sheffield Cemetery, Story County, Iowa. Donations are not requested but if you must, please donate to an Alzheimer’s or dementia not for profit.