Jerri ann Ernstsen passed away peacefully at home on June 26, 2021 from pancreatic cancer, five weeks after her diagnosis. In that time, she was able to say good-bye to many, but not all, of her friends and family.
Jerri ann was born in Salt Lake City to Jennie and Jerry Ernstsen. She grew up in Cottonwood Heights with her brother Matthew (deceased) and attended Brighton High School. Jerri ann loved her parents very much and took care of them daily in their final years at Mountain Ridge Assisted Living.
Jerri ann also loved learning and teaching, food and wine, outdoor sports, nature, music, and dogs and she wasn’t afraid to try new things. She started a catering business before attending college full-time. She later pivoted to cooking for friends and helped organize or joined a series of groups for the purpose of enjoying dinners together. Each had an official name. There was the Wasatch Dinner Club, Northern Utah Tasting Society (NUTS), Neighborhood of Progressive Eating (NOPE), and the Slipper Club.
After completing her Bachelors of Science in Biology at the University of Utah, Jerri ann decided to go further and completed both her Masters in Science and her PhD in Plant Physiology at Utah State. For her PhD, Jerri ann made sure she was able to eat her research by studying basil and spinach (her pesto was amazing). Then, as an adjunct professor, she taught many courses, one requiring her to become a “flying professor”, teaching plant propagation in Moab for Utah State’s extension program.
For some reason, Jerri ann loved riding her bike up hills, so much so that she entered the Snowbird Hill climb for four years. In her final year, Jerri ann took second for women and passed a lot of men on the way up.
Jerri ann learned to ski as a teenager at Snowbird. While she was completing her dissertation, she became a ski instructor at Snow Basin and continued teaching up until the 2002 Olympics. But she also loved cross-country skiing. If you haven’t heard of ski-joring, go look it up. Jerri ann loved ski-joring down (and up) the old Snow Basin road with Bridger, our Briard.
Jerri ann always wanted to improve in the things she enjoyed and dog training became a passion. She joined the Golden Spike Dog Obedience Club and competed in obedience and agility, eventually becoming the GSDOC director of training. She saw that the people she met through the club had a common appreciation for the love that dogs bring to our life.
One of Jerri ann’s many joys was to swing dance with her partner of over 40 years, Chris. Whether it was at a Red Butte concert or the Egyptian in Park City, she never cared if anyone else was dancing, because fun wasn’t going to wait for the crowd. Later, Jerri ann discovered Contra dancing and started taking her nieces to learn and enjoy live music and dance.
Jerri ann also had an artistic streak and showed it in a variety of ways. One that garnered attention was winning a costume contest by The Rolling Stones. That won her and Chris front row seats at their Utah concert and a trip to Florida for the tour’s finale.
Jerri ann’s creativity made every day special - from coordinated outfits and her own jewelry, special recipe treats and traditions of great coffee and chocolates in the morning to evenings with great wines and amazing dinners with friends. We will miss her laugh and love of life.
Please join us for a celebration of Jerri ann’s life on Friday, August 6, 2021 from 6 to 8 pm at Stark’s Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City.