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Former lawmaker Jerry Dempsey dies at age of 81

RED WING, Minn -- Minnesota representatives took a moment to honor former lawmaker Jerome "Jerry" Dempsey on Wednesday after he died at the age of 81. Dempsey represented the Hastings and Red Wing areas in the Legislature from 1993 to 2006, and t...

 

RED WING, Minn -- Minnesota representatives took a moment to honor former lawmaker Jerome “Jerry” Dempsey on Wednesday after he died at the age of 81.

Dempsey represented the Hastings and Red Wing areas in the Legislature from 1993 to 2006, and those who worked with him said he was passionate and dedicated.

“He was full of energy and passion for everything in his district,” said Pam Gorman of Xcel Energy, who worked with Dempsey on nuclear dry cask storage issues. “That will be how I remember him -- the passionate support that made him who he was.”

Dempsey, a Republican, served seven consecutive terms in the Legislature representing Hastings and Red Wing before deciding not to run for an eighth. His brother also was a state lawmaker.

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“Rep. Dempsey was first and foremost a gentleman,” said former Goodhue County Commissioner Gary Iocco, who was on the County Board when Dempsey was in office. “He represented all of our citizens, no matter if they voted for him or not.”

Dempsey took up politics after a working as an educator for years.

After graduating from St. Thomas College in St. Paul with a bachelor’s degree in education, he served in the Army. Then he began his career as a teacher at Goodhue Senior High School, where he taught social studies.

He and wife Joanne moved to Hastings, where he continued to teach social studies at Hastings High School before becoming assistant principal at Hastings Junior High School.

He earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a specialist degree in education administration from Winona State University.

Dempsey was involved in service clubs, his church, community organizations and civic work in Hastings, where lived most recently.

Iocco said Dempsey was kind, open minded and “a consummate professional.”

He was also thoughtful, Iocco said. If he saw your or someone in your family’s name in the paper, for example, he would cut it out and send you the clip, along with a handwritten note -- something he was known for.

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“Jerry has made a positive impact in our community, he will be missed,” Iocco said.

Dempsey’s funeral Mass was today at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Hastings.

The family established the Joanne and Jerome Dempsey Memorial Scholarship Fund at MidCountry Bank in Hastings. It will be used to provide scholarships for Hastings High School seniors. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be sent to Katie Dempsey c/o Dempsey Scholarship Fund, 865 W. 11th St., Winona, MN 55987.

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