Romance on Lake Superior

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Andy and Jerilyn Foster met on a blind date, while attending the University of Minnesota–Duluth. Their date began at Perkins and continued at the Aerial Lift Bridge on Lake Superior. The hours flew by, and the conversation flowed. They watched the ships passing by — a metaphor for the journey they were about to embark on. “We hit it off so easily, and I loved his great sense of humor and how he made me laugh,” Jerilyn recalled.  

Jerilyn and Andy married at age 21 and enjoyed nearly 30 years together. Andy’s companionship was the cornerstone of Jerilyn’s life. He planned trips across the country, but they always relished every chance to return to Duluth, their favorite place that held many happy memories.

In 2016, Andy was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, and he battled it for nearly two years, demonstrating grace and courage. He spent the final weeks of his life in the Our Lady of Peace (OLP) Hospice Residence where he received what Jerilyn described as “first-rate care,” a measure of comfort amid grief. 

“I had turned into a full-time caregiver when Andy lost his mobility, which led to frustrating moments for both of us,” Jerilyn said. “When we got to OLP, it was so nice to let them handle all the things I wasn’t trained to do and just be his wife and spend time with him. The staff embraced Andy’s entire family. Someone learned it was his mom’s birthday and surprised the family with a small cake. Everyone gathered around Andy’s bed and sang happy birthday to her. I’m so glad he was able to have that last celebration with her.”

Andy died on March 3, 2018, at age 51. Jerilyn said, “He received the utmost care, and made me laugh, right up until the very end.” Jerilyn decided to direct memorial gifts to OLP because she knew it would make a lasting difference and would be far more meaningful than flowers. A month later, she made the decision to include OLP in her will. 

Jerilyn said it made perfect sense to put OLP in her will, giving her a guarantee that she can support OLP, as a tribute to Andy, which is important to her. But it doesn’t require that she determine the amount of her gift, or give right now, as she continues to adjust to having only one income. “I don’t have the ability to make the size of donations that I would like to at this point, but I realized, “Why not include Our Lady as a beneficiary and build it right into my will so they receive a portion of my estate. They are also listed as the sole beneficiary of a couple of my retirement plans, in the case they are not entirely spent.”

“It’s in his honor,” she said. “It was very easy, and it feels right.”

Thank you, Jerilyn Foster for joining the Our Lady of Peace Legacy Society. 

For more information on the OLP Legacy Society, contact Debbie Swanson, Planned Giving & Development Officer at 651-789-6832 or debbies@ourladyofpeacemn.org

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