Monday, January 17, 2022

Jeff Okerberg, 62, Owatonna

Owatonna City Councilor Jeff Okerberg died Sunday night in Neuro ICU at United Hospital in St. Paul.

Okerberg suffered with chronic pain for a number of years, and had recently been diagnosed with an infection in the spine following a previous surgery. An additional surgery resulted in further catastrophic complications. On May 23, 2021, Jeff was set free from his broken body for eternity.

Jeff was born in Shakopee on Aug. 10, 1958 to Alfred and Mary (Knutson) Okerberg and has three brothers.

Jeff attended Bloomington Jefferson High School and graduated in 1976. Jeff excelled in his studies and also played football, wrestling and golf and worked various positions for Country Club grocery stores. He then pursued education for law enforcement from Normandale Community College.

Jeff married Elizabeth Hollinger in 1985 and this union created two daughters.

Jeff moved to Owatonna in the winter of 1981 after being hired by the city to work as a patrolman for the Owatonna Police Department under the supervision of Chief Nissen. He was later promoted to the rank of sergeant until his retirement in 2011. Jeff served for over 30 years.   During his career with the OPD, Jeff also served with the regional SWAT team as a gas munitions officer and team leader.

He was also involved as the Teamsters Union Steward for Patrolmen, Union Steward for Sergeants, AED/CPR instructor for OPD, SWAT team member, National Night Out chairperson, former Owatonna Junior High School football and wrestling coach, former member of the OBA and OWA, and former member of the Salvation Army Board.

Following his retirement, Jeff worked briefly in the gun department at Cabela’s, a job which he thoroughly enjoyed. Jeff then went on to file to run for the City Council at Large position and was first elected to the Owatonna City Council in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018. Jeff served on the Economic Development Authority as well as the Joint Powers board. 

Okerberg is known as a champion of fiscal responsibility and the growth of Owatonna in terms of infrastructure and attracting new businesses. He has been also been a firm believer in the revitalization of the city’s downtown district. At the time of his death he had been quite involved in the redevelopment of downtown Owatonna and his relationships with the store owners city-wide allowed them to be cognizant of impending changes and improvements. 

Jeff’s biggest hobbies were fishing and woodworking. He loved nothing more than to head north to Lake of the Woods in Canada and the Rainey River in Minnesota to drop a line. Jeff was devoted to the raising of his daughters and attended many of their sporting events. He was the sideline parent always encouraging the team, rain or shine and encouraged both to follow their dreams in their chosen careers.

Jeff is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, daughters Hannah (and Justin) Rinken, Clarkesville, Iowa; Ali (and Tony) Gaffney, Brooklyn Park. Brothers John David, Hibbing, Jim, Las Vegas and Jason, Hugo, Minn. He is also survived by grandson Weston Rinken and baby granddaughter expected in September of 2021.   

He was proceeded in death by his parents.

A Funeral Service is set for Thursday, May 27 at 2 p.m. at Bethel Church in Owatonna (1611 Hemlock Ave. Owatonna). Burial at the Bohemian National Cemetery. Visitation is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26at the Brick-Meger Funeral Home in Owatonna as well as from 1-2 p.m. at the church on Thursday. A live stream of the funeral will be available at www.bethelowatonna.com/eventstream. For more information or to leave a condolence message go to www.megerscares.com.

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