Local Funeral Home Owners Pay Tribute to Marshfield’s Historic Individuals

Greg and Tammi Jackan as Willard Purdy and Anna Lathrup. Tours were held inside at Grant Elementary this year due to thunderstorms.

Greg and Tami Jackan a Staple of Marshfield Cemetery Tours

Greg and Tami Jackan, owners of Remb’s Funeral Home in Marshfield, have decades of professional experience honoring those who have passed away. Each May for Historical Preservation Month in Marshfield, the couple also helps pay tribute to individuals who have shaped Marshfield’s history through the decades.

For all 18 years of the program’s existence, they have participated in the Marshfield Cemetery Tours, a program that invites third graders and the public to tour Marshfield’s cemetery and learn about important local historical figures.

“I first got involved about 20 years ago when Sheila Ashbeck-Nyberg was working with Main Street Marshfield. She and Don Schnitzler, who was with the Marshfield Historic Preservation Association, approached me and asked if I would give a presentation,” said Greg Jackan. “They were looking for actors to portray Marshfield people from the past. I was asked to portray George Upham, who was an early Marshfield undertaker and distant cousin to William Upham.”

The presentations were held downtown at The Daily Grind and then on Central Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets in Marshfield.

“Then, Don Schnitzler asked a group of about 10 or so to talk about people from Marshfield who left an impression before they died,” said Jackan. “At the cemetery, I have portrayed Sergeant Willard Purdy, Rev. Ignatius Schaller, and Charles Pors. Willard Purdy proved to be very popular with the students that toured the cemetery so that’s the character I have done the most.”

Willard Purdy served in France during World War I and sacrificed his life for his comrades. On July 4, 1918, he was in charge of a party of raiders bombing German trenches. Purdy accidentally pulled an igniter on one of his grenades and, knowing he had seconds, shouted to his men to run and absorbed the explosion with his body.

Today the brick Purdy Junior High School building, built in 1920, still stands today at 3rd Street and Chestnut Avenue.

Tami has portrayed the characters of Anne Pors and Anna Lathrup. “She has done Anna Lathrup the most and the students like her presentation which includes Anna’s dog, ‘Hack’ (played by our daughter’s dog, Bucky),” said Jackan.

Lathrup, born in 1853, was active preventing the mistreatment of animals as a president of the Wisconsin Humane Society, served on the board of the Marshfield library, and was elected to Common Council.

“We enjoy doing this because we feel that it is a different learning environment and it teaches the children about leaders in Marshfield who made a difference,” said Jackan.