Jay Russell Provencher, the son of Elmer and Marion (Lee) Provencher, was born January 15, 1946, in Litchfield, MN. He spent his early childhood years in Iowa and his high school years in Murdock, MN, graduating in 1964 from Murdock High School.
On October 10, 1964, Jay married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Degeest, in Kerkoven, MN. They were blessed with three children: Chad, Cory, and Cairsti. Jay and Barb celebrated 57 years of marriage.
Jay was a skilled carpenter with great attention to detail in the homes he built. He used this knowledge to successfully manage a lumber company. Later, he worked for Sparboe Farms as a transportation specialist for about 20 years, retiring in 2011 at the age of 65. Soon after, Jay worked part-time for Night Hawk Dispatch where he enjoyed the comradery he had with co-workers. He retired from dispatching due to health issues.
Being community-minded was important to Jay. In the 1960s, Jay was instrumental in developing the Kerkoven Rescue Squad. While living in Litchfield, he was a member of the Golden Fleece Lodge #89 and Litchfield Eagles #3424. He was also an active member of Star Lake Association.
Jay found great value in educating himself, taking classes, and learning new skills. He tooled leather and fixed cars. And he really loved a challenge. When the tools he had at his disposal wouldn’t work in a given situation, Jay used his mechanically driven brain and invented his own. He was a jack of all trades who loved to tinker, create, and fix. He made sure to teach his children and grandchildren lifelong skills such as car maintenance and repair that went far beyond changing a tire, how to catch and clean fish, how to fix anything themselves, and how to be self-sufficient in the world. He taught them how to build birdhouses and treehouses as well as the names of birds and all the flowers in the garden. While he wasn’t one to say his way was the only way, he couldn’t help but tell others who found a different solution than his “You could do it that way. It’d be wrong, but you could do it that way.”
Jay was a man of quality character who inherently valued the opinions and worth of women, even before it was common to do so. To say Jay was an amazing husband, father, and grandfather would simply be an understatement. He was always present, always teaching, and always caring. He was an incredible companion to Barb. He loved to banter with his children and grandchildren, tell jokes, and share his great sense of humor. Being on the lake fishing, going on boat rides, and watching birds made him happy. What made him happiest of all, however, was sharing life with his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Jay will be missed beyond measure.
Jay died on January 25, 2022, at home following a long battle with lung disease at the age of 76. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Jay is survived by his wife Barbara Provencher of Litchfield, MN; children: Chad (Tami) Provencher of Roseville, MN, Cory (Shannon) Provencher of Owatonna, MN, and Cairsti (Gary) Winfield of Eden Valley, MN; nine grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and sister Lois (Joe) Schreiber of St. Charles, MN.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his parents-in-law Emmet and Eleanor Degeest; and his siblings: Richard, Colleen, and Allen.