Being around Greg (Jolly) Jolstad, the last known victim of the I-35W bridge collapse to be pulled from the Mississippi, was "sunshine and Dilly Bars," a friend said.
"Life isn't supposed to end the way Greg's life ended," Pastor Bob Kleinke told the standing-room-only crowd that gathered to say goodbye to Greg (Jolly) Jolstad on Saturday. "Bridges aren't supposed to collapse."
Jolstad was the only member of the bridge construction crew to die when the Interstate 35W span collapsed on Aug. 1.
His body was also the last to be found, ending the nearly three-week recovery effort. The official death toll stands at 13.
Laying Jolstad to rest ends the first chapter of an event that captured headlines and stirred emotions across the country and around the world. What is certain to be a long cleanup, investigation, and rebuilding process continues.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was among those who made the 90-minute drive north to Mora, the town where Jolstad, 45, lived most of his life in a white farmhouse surrounded by a neat, carefully tended lawn.
"It was always mowed, always ready for football games," said Jim Hallin, who met Jolstad when they were kids.
Jolstad played football in high school and developed a lifelong love for the game. He played in multiple fantasy football leagues and was a huge fan of the Vikings. Bouquets of purple and gold flowers decorated the church, and some in the crowd sported team colors. One of Jolstad's brothers wore a Vikings jersey with "Jolly" emblazoned on the back.
Friends guess the nickname stemmed from Jolstad's joking manner and his happy-go-lucky nature. Or it might have been because during the first six months of kindergarten, instead of opening his mouth to talk, "he just smiled," said family friend Curt Nelson.
Co-workers said they will miss Jolstad's kindheartedness and his work ethic. "It was sunshine and Dilly Bars," said Roger Burma of being around Jolstad. They shared a "thing about ice cream" and a love for the food prepared by Jolstad's wife, Lisa.
Many of the traditions at the Jolstad farm--football, deer hunting and wood chopping--included Lisa's well-loved cooking, especially her beef sandwiches.
"As long as she keeps cooking, we'll keep hunting," said Hallin. Jolstad lived for the outdoors, gardening, hunting, and ice fishing whenever he could. If asked about how his summer had been, he'd reply "every day of work is one day closer to ice fishing," Hallin recalled.
Jolstad leaves behind his wife and three stepchildren: Katie, 19; Kim, 18, and Nick, 17, as well as his two beloved dogs, Leo and Otis. Friends said Jolstad always had time for his family, no matter how tired he was or how many hours he'd worked. Home was where he liked to be.
This year, the family will rename their fantasy football league the Jolly Tribe in memory of Jolstad and one of his fondest dreams.
Maybe, Nelson said, Jolly is in "a place where maybe the Vikings have actually won a Super Bowl."
Kara McGuire 612-673-7293
Kara McGuire firstname.lastname@example.org