In loving memory: Jerry Packard

Jery Clark Packard, 1943–2020

Jerry Packard

Photo courtesy of Carole Packard
Jerry Packard had a special knack for sharing life’s joys.

Chesterton, Ind.

Jerry Clark Packard passed away at the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, on April 1. Jerry fell ill in late January and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He then contracted pneumonia, suffered a stroke, and was placed in palliative care. He could not be moved to a nursing home because of the COVID-19 situation.

Jerry was born to Arthur C. and Frederika Schlanbusch Packard in San Diego, Calif., on June 22, 1943. He was raised in Texas and in Burien, Wash., where he graduated from Evergreen High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in Pacific Island history from the University of Hawaii. 

He and his wife, Carole Jacobs, met in the Peace Corps in Western Samoa in 1967. They were married in 1968 on Guam, where Carole taught junior high school and Jerry did engineering work for the U.S. Navy. Jerry did field work for his history degree in Papua New Guinea, where he studied the effects of taro blight on village life. His master’s thesis, “The Bougainville Taro Blight,” was published by the University of Hawaii. Jerry spoke French and Polynesian languages, including Samoan and New Guinea pidgin. 

After graduating from the University of Hawaii, Jerry taught at a community college in American Samoa. He returned to Seattle in 1979 and worked for Boeing as an electrical engineer. When he retired in 2003, Jerry was a manager in aerospace engineering. 

His hobbies included gardening, continuing education and genealogy. His outdoor activities included hiking, boating, and skiing. Jerry was on the boards of the Magnuson Park Community Garden and the Seattle Tree Fruit Society. The fruit, vegetable and flower gardens developed by Jerry and Carole at Magnuson Park and in their own backyard were second to none.

Jerry was an avid genealogist. His father’s ancestors, the Packard (Puritans) and Macy (Quaker) families, were 17th-century English immigrants to Massachusetts Bay Colony. Jerry met some distant Quaker relatives when he and Carole visited Nantucket Island in the summer of 2019. 

Most of all, Jerry was proud of his mother’s family from Norway. One ancestor was Heinrich Schlanbusch, a Saxon immigrant in 1682 to Kongsberg, Norway, where he was Norway’s Director of Mining and Metallurgy, 1685-1705. Heinrich and his wife are buried by Eidsvoll Manor, where Norway’s constitution was drawn up and ratified in 1814. Jerry’s maternal ancestors, surnamed Losnes, Sandersen, Sorenson (Sørensen), Opsahl and Schlanbusch, emigrated to Wisconsin, and then to Nebraska, from Fåvang in Ringebu, Gudbrandsdal, Norway.

Jerry was a warm, outgoing person, who had a lifelong passion for learning, for travel, and for meeting people. He and Carole were members of Sons of Norway Leif Erikson Lodge in Seattle. As true tradition bearers, Jerry and Carole made substantial batches of lefse for Syttende mai, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. They were active participants in as many of Seattle’s Scandinavian cultural events as they could attend. 

Jerry was beloved by friends and family. His warm, welcoming way and his knack for sharing life’s joys with others will be sorely missed.

This article originally appeared in the May 22, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Jim Nelson

Jim Nelson is a Norwegian-American scholar and musician, who lived and taught in Norway for over 18 years. Nelson is an expert in the Norwegian immigration to the United States, Norwegian folk music, and Scandinavian immigrant music. Now based in Chesterton, Ind., he continues to perform and is president of the Scandiana Sons of Norway lodge.