Garth Jurgensen, of Ripley Location, passed away peacefully on November 29, 2020 at Marquette Duke LifePoint Hospital, from brain cancer. He was 51 years young. Garth battled extremely hard to beat cancer, since his diagnosis in December 2019. He fought to live as he wanted to see the light of his life, daughter Macy Lee Jurgensen, grow up to adulthood. He did remark that he was not afraid to die, as he saw it as his next trip-adventure.
Garth was born Garth Robert Jurgensen to Marty and Sonya (Yaniskivis) Jurgensen on November 15, 1969 in San Antonio, Texas. At two months old, Garth made the journey north to start his adventure as a Yooper, growing up in Calumet and Lake Linden. Perhaps this journey made him the tough SOB that he was, but the steel bar he had to wear affixed to both feet to correct clubbed feet at night sealed the deal; Garth created a lot of “mayhem” nightly, slamming the braces against his poor crib, much to his parents’ and siblings’ delight.
Despite this birth defect, he quickly became an entertaining fixture of Calumet Avenue, dancing in his diapers in his parents’ front-facing bedroom window. The older boys enjoyed the entertainment and took Garth under their wings, teaching him to play street hockey and other sports. Garth started playing hockey young in the CLK junior leagues and grew up to become the “MTU’s Hockey Team’s Biggest Fan,” as he recently told a nurse.
Garth attended various CLK schools and received a GED. He also attended two years at MTU. Garth was primarily a student of life, learning from elders and other mentors. He was employed as a construction worker, laborer, and mason for different employers; he spent the most time at Moyle Construction. He also spent a few years working as a roustabout and oil fieldhand on the Bakken Oil Fields in western North Dakota.
Garth played several years in the Old Timer’s Hockey League, on various teams. He also loved to hunt deer and waterfowl and was typically the “best shot of the bunch.” He was incredibly lucky in his harvests and in his friends, of which he had hundreds around the world. Garth also never met a beer he did not like, though KBC was his favorite brand and watering hole.
Garth was also lucky in games of chance, routinely winning at cards, cribbage, board games, Ducks’ Unlimited banquets and bar trivia (with late brother, Eric at the old Bleachers’ Bar of Hancock: ‘Gartu’ and ‘Jazwad’ were the team to beat!). Garth won $30,000 on a $.25 slot machine while in North Dakota.
The greatest luck he had, though, was becoming a father at 39 of the apple of his eye and his life’s joy – Macy. They spent a lot of time together camping, swimming, competing in cribbage, attending MTU hockey games and playing basketball at the SDC. He was a wonderful and loving father and taught Macy how to swim, camp, fish, shoot, play basketball and soccer, survive in the wilderness and to never be afraid of anything.
He overcame several challenges in life and became an excellent downhill skier, hockey player, hunter, fisherman, jet skier and greatly enjoyed travelling and all adventures. He shredded and worked the slopes at Mt. Ripley, Mt. Bohemia and Arapahoe Basin, Colorado. Garth was an adrenaline-junkie and shared his outlook on those who knew and loved him. He lived life for the moment.
His travels took him to Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Central America (Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico), as well as several US states, including Alaska. Recently, he learned to scuba dive and became a Divemaster in Honduras. In that capacity, he saved a young man’s life (Javier) during a horrible boating accident when Garth took quick action in applying emergency first aid and getting Javier to a hospital, though he died one week later. Garth started suffering from PTSD and then was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, though they first thought he had the Bends.
Garth helped many people out in various situations. During the Father’s Day Flood of 2018, Garth was instrumental in borrowing heavy equipment and volunteered his labor in the rebuilding of Ripley Location, Hancock. Several Ripley residents shared their appreciation for his efforts and that he had gone above-and-beyond to help all those impacted.
Garth was preceded in death by all his grandparents; mother and stepfather, Sonya, and John Yaniskivis; older brother, Eric Jurgensen; and stepbrother, Fran Yaniskivis. His beloved dogs, Tess and Titus also preceded him to the Happy Hunting Grounds. He is survived by his cherished daughter, Macy Lee Jurgensen; father and stepmother, Marty, and Mary Jurgensen; sister and brother-in-law, Laura Jurgensen and Darrel Koch; nephew, Leif Jurgensen; niece Brooke Jurgensen and Glok, the Wonder dog.
A celebration party and memorial of Garth’s life will be held next summer (2021) at Agate Beach, Toivola – one of he and Macy’s favorite camping locations. The family will post an announcement in the Daily Mining Gazette and on Facebook for scheduling details.
Garth will live forever in our hearts and wherever there is a bit of craziness and mayhem behavior among us. In lieu of flowers, please make any donations in his memory to the Copper Country Humane Society.
The family would like to thank Paul Champagne, Laura Shawhan and Andrew Estes for their tireless love, support and assistance to Garth and his family during his last few months. We could not have done it without your unconditional love and support in helping to care for Garth!
The O’Neill-Dennis Funeral Home of Hancock is assisting with the arrangements. To leave online condolences, please go to www.oneilldennisfh.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Garth Jurgensen, please visit our floral store.