MN State Rep (1985-2002)
Loren Jennings of Rush City passed away suddenly at his home Saturday, September 9, 2023 at the age of 72.
Loren George Jennings was born on June 30, 1951 as the eldest child to George and Bernice Jennings — a strong man and an even stronger-willed woman — into a close-knit community in Rush City, Minnesota. He was raised, alongside his four younger siblings Mark, Vandy, Wendy and Lori with the elements of his family’s DNA that would forever be the guiding posts of his life: That family and community were most important.
In his 72 years, with those principles in focus, he fit in the breadth of experience that would’ve been an enviable life if even four men had managed to live it. He was a successful businessman, politician, farmer and family man, all the while staying rooted in East Central Minnesota.
In his early 20's, he started a rubbish-hauling business that, with the help of Brad Cook and Jerry Moses, turned into a 50-truck business, proving they could talk trash and throw trash with the best of them. With Brad, he built Kinger’s grocery store — named in the memory of his late father — and with the assistance of Dennis Frandsen it later expanded into the operation of a small, local shopping mall, providing Loren’s community with their necessities.
As a Rush City Councilman, Chisago County Commissioner and Minnesota State Representative, he championed family and community. He was the chief architect of the Minnesota Family Investment Program, a welfare program that supported low-income families and an innovative law that became a welfare-reform model for other states. Loren was also the sole House author of the controversial 1994 Prairie Island Nuclear Waste cask storage legislation, a move that cost him political capital, but ensured a healthier environment for future generations as it required energy companies to contribute to a state fund dedicated to energy conservation and innovative renewable energy projects. More significantly, the law required NSP (now Excel) to build and support wind and farm grown biomass electric generating sources. That forward thinking was the foundation that has resulted in Excel now producing 40 percent of its Minnesota electricity from renewable resources.
Even with his success in business and politics, at his heart he was always a farmer. Loren always came back to the land and the “toys” (that inevitably needed fixing) that helped him turn the soil and see his crops grow. In the summer, when his pool was full of his kids and their friends, he was bailing hay in 100 degree heat. And in August, while most Minnesotans (and even some farmers) were busy planning their winter getaways, Loren was making sure his truck would be ready for snow plowing.
But the greatest success of his life was his family. He loved his wife Bonnie deeply, and cherished the children he shared with her — Michelle, Roxanne, Jeff and Jerred, as well as the dozen of the kid’s friends who became honorary Jennings family members. While Rush City recognized his booming voice as the guy over the PA at the annual demolition derby, his kids (and plenty of refs) knew his voice as the one heard “lecturing” from the stands at a football or basketball game. And with Bonnie by his side, he ultimately owned the greatest title of his life “Papa Bear,” a name bestowed on him by his loving grandchildren. He taught them how to drive trucks, pick rocks and care for the many kittens at the farm, and provided a lap on which to sit while a second generation of Jennings kids swam in the pool.
Loren's circle stretches further than any of us know. He was a man who always had everyone’s back, and if you were one to pick up his call, he’d have your ear, too. Those who knew him as a husband, dad, grandpa, brother, uncle, friend and mentor will all hold memories close and dear to our hearts as he has left an enormously empty space in all of our lives.
Loren is survived by his wife Bonnie Peach-Jennings; children Roxanne Jennings, Jeff (Emily) Jennings all of Rush City, Michelle (Ricky) Keovoravong of Brooklyn Park, Jerred (Kristina) Nelson of Bloomington; son-in-law Charlie Deedrick; grandchildren Georden Tschida, George, Brynnja, Charles, Henrik Deedrick, Clara, Jerred Nelson, Marina Keovoravong, Gunner Jennings; siblings Mark (Kathy) Jennings of Edina, Vandy (Joe) Nelson of Fredrick, WI, Wendy Cook (Tom Arneson) of Mora, Lori (Greg) Lent of Mosinee, WI; many nieces, nephews and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents Bernice and George “Kinger” Jennings; uncles/aunts Roland (Shirley) Abrahamson, Harold (Fern) Abrahamson, Ann (Jack) Passick.
A Celebration of Loren's Life will be held from 4-7 PM; Friday, September 15, 2023 (7 PM Masonic Service) all at the Olson Funeral Chapel in Rush City.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the:
Shriner's Children's Hospital
215 Radio Drive, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the: Funeral and Cremation Service of Rush City, Olson Chapel