Harold "Harry" Jebens

Harold "Harry" J Jebens

1941 - 2024

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Harold "Harry"

Obituary of Harold "Harry" J Jebens

Harry J Jebens



Harold (“Harry”) J Jebens, 82, of Brooklyn Park, MN, Phillips, WI, Platteville, WI Madison, WI and other cities before that and along the way, passed away on June 13, 2024 due to complications from pulmonary fibrosis. He is survived by his brother, Farr (Carol) Jebens; two sons, Harley (Nina Knapp Jebens) and Brett (Yiselle Baltodano Jebens); one daughter, Tara (RJ) Jebens-Singh; four grandchildren (Yeser Tercero Baltodano, Luis Francisco Baltodano, Rohan Jebens Singh, and Joshua Farr Jebens Baltodano) and one great granddaughter (Juliana Guisselle Tercero Rosales). He was preceded in death by his wife of 49 years, Charlene; his grandson, Ishan; and his parents, Harold and Harriet (“Jane”). He was also preceded in death by his companion in later years, Dorothy Molstad.


Harry (only his mother called him Harold) was born on Nov. 5, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up all over the Midwest and spent some time in school (and getting in trouble) where his maternal grandmother was the principal. He graduated from high school in Mount Prospect, Illinois.

He joined his older brother Farr at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and the nickname Harry. He spent his junior year as a Carnegie Fellow at the Instituto Technólogico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico where he picked up the nickname Sonrisas (“Smiley'' or “Happy Traveler”) or maybe he bestowed that nickname upon himself. Summer studies at Utah State University and Clemson followed, as did a master’s and PhD in Sanitary Engineering and Hydraulics from UW-Madison.


Harry took a job at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville as a professor of civil engineering, which is where he picked up the nickname Doc Harry. From 1964-67 and then from 1970-79 he taught at UW-Platteville. He spent a number of those summers working on research projects for the Ames Research Center affiliated with NASA– a design study on space colonization in 1975, a Space Life Sciences Training Program research fellowship in 1976 and on a VFR study in 1978 that saw frogs go into space on the space shuttle. Harry always wanted to go into outer space – and came close a couple times; those summer experiences in California working on these projects became cherished memories to him.


In 1979, he and the family moved from Platteville to Phillips, Wisconsin, where Harry joined some of his grad school friends at Marquip, International. He traveled around the world while working as the human resources director, in charge of recruiting, safety and training for Marquip. In 1996, with their children out of the house, graduated from college, and starting families of their own, Harry and Char moved to Brooklyn Park, MN, in search of new opportunities and to be closer to their grandchildren. In Minnesota, Harry worked with start-up companies in environmental engineering, taught environmental studies for Cardinal Stritch University, and tutored younger students at Mathnasium. He traveled extensively to Nicaragua, where he assisted where he could with the business his younger son, Brett, had established there.


Harry loved being outdoors, and he loved birds and wildlife – he could spot a deer or other animal off the side of the road on road-trips like nobody’s business. He loved to travel. He was famous for his “shortcuts” – which never typically shortened a trip, but always made it more interesting, and meant you saw something new and had a great story to tell on the other side of it. He was a teacher of outdoor lore, a regular lunch-time companion or online cribbage opponent, and a dependable happy hour phone call check-in. 


He was a connector. Whether it was through a shared experience, hobby, interest or joke, he was always looking for a way to share a laugh, a nod or a wink with those he encountered. And he spent time reaching out to – and visiting – friends and family from around the world over the years to deepen that connection. He was a storyteller, spinning his yarns up until the end. 


Harry loved his family. He loved his friends. And he loved his dogs. The order of that love probably depended upon whether you were a dog, a friend or a member of the family. He liked business cards – collecting them and handing them out. The last business card he created for himself read “Life’s been Good.” For Harry Jebens, life was good. He will be missed.


A Celebration of Life for Harry Jebens will be held on Sunday, August 4, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. (program starting at 2:00) at the Edinburgh Golf Course, 8700 Edinbrook Crossing, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to support the Rotary’s clean water initiatives: https://www.rotary.org/en/our-causes/providing-clean-water.

A Memorial Tree was planted for Harold "Harry"
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Cremation Society of Minnesota