Mary Jean “Jerre” Jones (Campbell), age 99, passed away November 22, 2021 in Casper, Wyoming; her home of 71 years. She was born April 25, 1922 in Spencer, Iowa, and grew up somewhat of a ‘tomboy’ free spirit after losing her mother very young and was fortunate to have a kind father who instilled a sense of community involvement in Jerre and her little brother, Jim. She attended Yankton College in South Dakota, graduating with an English/Liberal Arts degree. Summers were spent as an employee of a sanitorium in Concord, Mass. and in a steel mill in Gary, Indiana as part of the war effort. Jerre was the first female snake handler and tour guide at the Reptile Gardens in Rapid City, in 1942. First day on the job, Jerre was entwined in snakes and photographed for a tourist postcard.
Jerre later became a reporter for the Rapid City Journal, although her first newspaper job was at the Spencer Reporter, which sealed her destiny as a lifelong photographer and journalist. She met Robert Jones on a weekend trip to Devils Tower in 1949; she and Bob married in 1950 and settled in Casper.
With a growing family, Jerre started doing publicity for the school system and later for the Natrona Public Library, where she made a circle of friends who still meet weekly. Jerre began working for the Casper Shopper – which evolved into the Casper Journal. She sold advertising; eventually became a reporter; then editor, at which point owner John Gariety said of Jerre, the Casper Journal was her paper.
Her favorite job was as a feature writer interviewing old-timers in and around Casper for “Jaywalking with Jerre”. Always modest, even the editor swept floors, made coffee, missed paychecks, anything to help keep the Journal afloat through downswings in the economy.
After retiring, she and Bob traveled extensively in their Volkswagen bus; from Alaska to Florida, San Diego to Nova Scotia. Her life’s trajectory took a turn in 1972 with a breast cancer diagnosis. Surviving cancer led her to a passionate volunteer ‘career’ that continued until July of this year when she attended her last American Cancer Society’s ‘Relay for Life’. She was a consistent force with American Cancer Society community programs and events supporting cancer research.
Jerre’s dedication to public service would bring surprising honors. Being Wyoming’s first recipient of the Jefferson Award for public service might have been her greatest honor. Among others, she received the American Cancer Society’s St. George award.
Reading and writing were favorite past-times; Jerre immensely enjoyed her book club and writers’ group. She was an ardent supporter of the Democratic party, believed strongly in voting rights, and held strong that climate change is dire.
Jerre was preceded in death by her husband, Bob, brother Jim Campbell, [SL1] grandson Michael Jones, and nephew Tom Dameron just last month. She is survived by her children, Jim (Ann) of Casper, Bob (Viana) of Edgerton, Clark of Casper, and Suzanne (Wes) of Laramie, six grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the “American Cancer Society” or “No One Left Behind”.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 10:30 am on December 7, 2021. Masks are encouraged. (Zoom available at uucasper.org – click Attend an Online Service) Jerre loved books, loved reading, loved knowledge. If you’d like, please bring a book to donate to Natrona County Public Library’s book sale.
Arrangements are entrusted to Bustard & Jacoby Funeral Home , 600 CY Ave. Casper, WY 82601.