Cover photo for Edward Andrew Jepsen's Obituary
Edward Andrew Jepsen Profile Photo
1950 Edward 2021

Edward Andrew Jepsen

June 28, 1950 — December 25, 2021

Edward Andrew Jepsen
June 28, 1950- December 25, 2021

Ed Jepsen was born in Rockford, Illinois on June 28, 1950 and left planet Earth on Christmas morning 2021, after living with cancer for nearly five years. A born scientist, he will be remembered by family and friends for his kindness and generosity, intellectual curiosity, passionate care for planet Earth, sense of humor, enthusiasm and sincere interest in the well-being of others.

Ed married Kristin Groth in July of 2000 and they brought much love and joy to each other's lives. They shared a love of the outdoors, of plants and trees, wildlife, the arts, various community volunteer activities and travel. And if family or friends joined them? Bonus. They enjoyed a honeymoon to England, a music cruise in the British Virgin Islands, plays and museums in New York City, traveling to Jepsen family reunions, and treasured exploring of our National and State parks.

Ed's spirit needed nature. Wherever he was, he loved to seek out and explore the highest peak. He enjoyed annual winter camping trips and jumping into rivers -- with or without clothes on. He was a voracious reader, but if given a choice, he'd always opt for going, doing, exploring and experiencing.
Ed encouraged his brothers, and others, to think about how to make a difference and leave a legacy -- to be deliberate and do something that would make a positive difference in the world and with people.

Ed spent most of his adult life in Madison, Wisconsin, where he married his first wife, Karen, and welcomed their children, Andrew and Kira, all while earning a double master's degree in forestry and forestry soils from the University of Wisconsin.

Andrew lives in Westlake Village, California with his wife Sarah and their children, Ryan and Audrey. His daughter, Kira, is married to Jameson Brown and they live in Boston, Massachusetts with their infant daughter, Celine.

Ed, "Dzia Dzia," was magical with little ones. Even at 71 he was a child at heart, heading right to the floor to play with them. He was never too tired to snuggle and share a book, such as "Who Sank the Boat?" one of Ryan's favorites. Ed loved his 37 years of working for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with a focus on conservation, resource management and stewardship. He was responsible for longitudinal plant studies related to climate change, and traveled extensively in the Midwest to gather data and tend to department projects. He felt lucky to have a career he truly loved and he instilled the value of that in Andrew and Kira.

Ed and Kristin met as volunteers for Tenney Park and the Yahara River Parkway in Madison, east side parks they both valued and supported. A crowning volunteer effort for Ed was his work with the Friends of Yahara River Parkway, a nonprofit group that advocates for the parkway and adjacent parks. Under his leadership and decades of work, the Yahara Parkway underpass for East Johnson Street was completed. Pedestrians and cyclists no longer had to dodge cars to cross East Johnson Street. Ed was fondly nicknamed "Captain Tenacity" for his Yahara Parkway work.
Trout fishing was a passion of Ed's, as were hiking, canoeing and kayaking. He valued the underpinnings of democracy and supported politicians who promoted policies that would help create a more equitable world. He looked forward to the PBS NewsHour and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and pondered and acted on ways to make our world a better place. He commuted on bicycle, shared a car with Kristin for many years, and was always mindful of sustainable choices.

Ed loved "Weeona," a Central Wisconsin lake cabin surrounded by forest, owned by beloved friends who treated him like family. In typical Ed fashion, he demonstrated his profound appreciation for his frequent visits to Weeona by creating a comprehensive, sustainable forest management plan which provided them with a blueprint to maintain the wild nature of this property for generations to come.

Ed was the second oldest of seven brothers, born to John and Angela "Nelly" Jepsen. For the past 30 years, the brothers and their families have gathered for a family reunion every other year, in various locations across the United States. On each of these reunions, Ed was the scout and planner for the best hikes, mountains to climb, rivers to canoe/kayak and places to fish. For each reunion he planned one especially challenging outdoor activity, or the "bi-annual family death march" as his son Andrew affectionately called it. Ed's nieces and nephews still laugh about the wind-blasted canoe trip in Door County, the marathon canoe trip on the Saugatuck River in Michigan and the trudge up a "fourteener" in Colorado. All had fond memories of these adventures and Ed was revered as "the nature app" for his extensive knowledge of fauna, flora, geology and history on these adventures -- and any time in the outdoors. His friends and family will miss that.

It has been said that "people die in the manner in which they lived," and Ed was no exception. The last phase of Ed's life was filled with love, grace, humor and his dedication to the search for truth. "Ed always wanted to know the truth, even when it was hard," Kristin said affectionately. "He would say, 'Then we can make good choices.'"

Ten days before he died, Ed's phone was exploding with loving texts and phone calls. He observed, "It seems like people just can't get enough of me." He was right, everyone wishes they had more time with him. Ed will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by all the people whose lives he touched.

Ed was preceded in death by his parents, John and Angela (Nelly) Jepsen. He is survived by his wife, Kristin Groth; son Andrew (Sarah), and their children Ryan and Audrey; daughter Kira Brown (Jameson) and their daughter Celine; his first wife Karen; and brothers John (Pat), Alan (Marisa), Stan (Barb), Stephen (Mary Ann), Chris (Tori) and Chuck, as well as their 17 children and two grandchildren. He is also survived by many in Kristin's family and countless friends who also helped him leave this earth feeling truly loved.

Memorials to honor Ed are easy: Give a gift of time or money to help heal our environment, promote equity or protect our democracy. Be recklessly kind. Get a vaccine.

A gathering to celebrate Ed will start at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at Tenney Park's John Wall Pavilion in Madison with a program at 7 p.m. and end with a toast to Ed as the sun sets over Lake Mendota at 8:06 p.m. Ed was always on the lookout for a good sunset.
To order memorial trees in memory of Edward Andrew Jepsen, please visit our tree store.


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