‘She just fell in love with the forest’Sarah Jaeger had been living her dream. “She always had this dream of trying to find some land in northern Minnesota and living in the woods,” Jaeger’s daughter, Stephanie Jaeger, said Monday.
By: Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
Sarah Jaeger had been living her dream.
“She always had this dream of trying to find some land in northern Minnesota and living in the woods,” Jaeger’s daughter, Stephanie Jaeger, said Monday.
After more than six years of living in the woods about seven miles north of Two Harbors, Sarah Jaeger and her black Labrador, Odie, died in a vehicle crash off the intersection of State Highway 61 and County Road 3 that left her truck overturned in Lake Superior. Her truck was discovered early Friday morning by men fishing near the mouth of the Stewart River.
Jaeger’s partner of 16 years, Bil Frank, said Monday he didn’t know where she was going at the time or what happened to cause the accident. Lake County Sheriff Carey Johnson said the accident could have happened any time between late Thursday night or before snow began falling Friday about 4 a.m.
“She was heading into town, I’m assuming,” he said. “I had spoken to her earlier in the evening. Everything was fine.”
Jaeger, who had retired in January from 50 Below, a Duluth website design firm, was excited to spend even more time outdoors this spring and summer, her daughter said. “She was so happy and relaxed,” she said. “Her heart was definitely in the land.”
Last year, Jaeger completed a process that ensured permanent protection of her 88 acres that has part of the Encampment River running through it. In August, the News-Chronicle reported that she had checked out different land protection options and decided to go with a conservation easement through the Minnesota Land Trust. The easement will prevent any commercial development on the land.
Jaeger was preceded in death by her husband, Thomas. She is survived by her children, Stephanie and Michael Thomas Jaeger; siblings Marina Proudfoot and Erick Schultz; and her partner of 16 years, Charles “Bil” Frank.
There will be a visitation an hour before a 2 p.m. service today at Roseville Memorial Chapel, 2245 N. Hamline Ave., in Roseville.
“Sarah made it happen,” Frank said of initiating the land protection. “When she wanted something … nothing was going to stop her.”
“Completing the easement gives me tremendous satisfaction and peace of mind,” Jaeger said last year. She went even further in her efforts by being responsible for managing the healthy regeneration of white pine trees on the property.
“With a deer overpopulation eating the trees in winter, she wanted to make sure they were protected,” Stephanie Jaeger said.
Frank said he and Jaeger walked the woods for years looking for young pines and built deer-proof cages around about 400 of them.
“They took an enormous amount of time to mark and tag the white pines, and some had grown from seedlings to 12 feet tall under her care,” Stephanie Jaeger said. “She just fell in love with the forest and it was a really strong force for her. It helps me knowing that she has this legacy.”
That legacy continues in the mourning over her death. Her family has asked that memorials to the land trust be made in instead of flowers for the funeral service today. Donations can be sent to Sarah Jaeger Memorial Fund, c/o Minnesota Land Trust, 2356 University Ave. W., St. Paul, MN 55114.