Rev. Vernon Jaberg `44 and Eugene Jaberg `48
Alumni Association - posted on 9/15/2009
Eugene Jaberg '48
Mission House and Lakeland College have truly been a family affair for the Jabergs. The Rev. Vernon Jaberg `44 graduated from Mission House 65 years ago, 24 years after his father, Elmer Charles Jaberg `20, and four years before his brother, Eugene (Gene), a graduate from the class of 1948. Vernon's son, the Rev. Mark Jaberg, is a graduate of the class of 1972.
On a recent summer weekend, Vern was visited in Elkhart Lake by Gene, who currently resides in New Brighton, Minn. The two communicate frequently, and after more than 80 years, that is certainly saying something about the bond of brotherhood. As Gene says of Vern, "He has an un-ending sense of humor. He's the best brother one could ask for." Whenever two or more Jabergs get together, there is a lot of reminiscing, and much of it relates to Lakeland College. This month's Alumni Spotlight provides a glimpse into the lives of these two devoted brothers.
Vern was born in Indianapolis, Ind., on Sept. 28, 1922. He remembers arriving on campus in January of 1936 with his folks "to a very snowy scene." Vern and Gene and their sister, Ruth, attended Jefferson Elementary in Sheboygan, and then North High, where both brothers were class presidents in turn, and Ruth was treasurer. As to his memories of Mission House/Lakeland College, Vern states, "We had a very wonderful faculty." And he fondly remembers his off-campus jobs, working for North Western Railroad in Sheboygan during the summer, and selling suits for Prange's in the winter.
For his part, Gene remembers that Lakeland College gave him tremendous opportunities. "I was interested in athletics and drama, I wrote for The Mirror, the whole gamut. I was spending time doing radio announcing on the weekends. I had many interests and I could pursue them all."
Vern married his sweetheart, Virginia Dirkse, in 1946. After graduating from Mission House Seminary in 1947, Vern was called to pastorates in Nebraska, Iowa, Kiel, and then came to St. John's United Church of Christ in Sheboygan in 1966 where he served for 24 years. Vern has been extremely active in the UCC, his community and in his alma mater, where he currently serves as the oldest alumnus on the Lakeland College Alumni Association Board of Directors. Vern currently lives at Cedar Landing, an assisted living facility in Elkhart Lake. Vern's son, Steve, is the executive director of Cedar Landing and Cedar Community, the main campus in West Bend.
Vern proudly recounts how, during their school days, Gene went off to Princeton Theological Seminary for one year, and he had the opportunity to hear Albert Einstein speak. Next, Gene went to Cambridge, England, before coming back to Sheboygan to complete his seminary studies at Mission House. Vern also remembers with delight that Gene was the floor announcer for the Sheboygan Redskins Basketball team and that this developed into Gene's work in radio and television in later years.
When Mission House moved to the Twin Cities in 1962 and merged with United Theological Seminary, Gene followed as one of the faculty and taught there until 1991. He then had a second career in radio and public television. He wrote a book, "The Video Pencil: Cable Communication for Church and Community" and was the co-editor of "History of Mission House/Lakeland" with Roland Cley.
"I was always interested in the church and its relation to media," Gene said. "At UTS, I co-taught a course in theological interpretation of film. We looked at a lot of film and taught a method for using film in the parish. This was also an interest of my brother. In his confirmation classes, Vern would often use short films to help illustrate a point or start a discussion."
As far as any advice they might have for new graduates, Gene says "I would suggest that they keep an open mind about their lives and their careers, particularly these days. We may not end up doing the thing specifically we had in mind. It is always good to see what opportunities and people present themselves and be open to that."
And from Vern: "The thing that I discovered in the long haul, work hard, be dedicated and remember there are no shortcuts. I practiced that all those years. When you put in the energy and the time, the blessings come back to you."
As Vern approaches his 87th birthday on September 28, we can rest assured that the Jaberg family will be together reminiscing in one form or another. Happy birthday Vernon, from all your friends at Lakeland College!
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