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D: 2020-06-07
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D: 2020-06-06
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140 8th Avenue North
South St. Paul, MN 55075
Phone: 651-455-5352
Fax: 651-455-8255
Jill Lewis Jill Lewis Jill Lewis Jill Lewis Jill Lewis Jill Lewis Jill Lewis Jill Lewis Jill Lewis Jill Lewis
In Memory of
Jill E
Lewis (Zehnder)
1945 - 2020
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Obituary for Jill E Lewis (Zehnder)

Jill E  Lewis (Zehnder)
Jill E. Lewis (nee Zehnder)
Born on Christmas Eve, 1945, Jill was a gift to the community of Inver Grove Heights until her death due to pancreatic cancer on Sunday, June 7, 2020. She served the community for 40 years as a school board member, Rotarian, founding and executive committee member of the Inver Grove Heights B.E.S.T. Foundation, and president of the trustee committee of Old Salem Shrine. She played a role in many positive developments in the Inver Grove Heights community, including the Inver Glen Library and the Inver Grove Heights Post Office. She was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2019 Service to Others Humanitarian Award from the South St. Paul/Inver Grove Heights Rotary Club. Jill was the subject of an Insight 7 feature on Town Square Television in 2019.
Jill began playing the organ for church at the age of 12 and went on to serve as music director at three area United Methodist Churches: Salem UMC (now Crossroads) in Inver Grove Heights, First UMC in South St. Paul and Mt. Bethel UMC in Inver Grove Heights. It is fitting she died at 8:45 a.m. on a Sunday, the time she generally arrived at church to prepare for the morning service.
Jill was committed to ensuring area students received the best education possible. She served on the Independent School District 199 Board from 1980 to 1995, holding the position of chair for 7 years. From 1995 to 2020, she was the appointed representative to the school board of Intermediate School District 917, serving as chair from 1999 until the time of her death. She helped found the Inver Grove Heights B.E.S.T. (Better Educated Students of Today) Foundation, the educational scholarship foundation for graduates of Simley High School. She was the lifeblood of BEST since its inception until 2019, holding the office of president and treasurer for many years. Under her leadership from 1987-2018, the Foundation awarded more than $3 million in scholarships to Simley graduates.
She was a long-time member of the Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul Rotary Club, serving as treasurer for 15 years. Through Rotary, she served as host “family” for Emma Jennings, whom Jill loved and maintained contact with until she died.
Jill carried on her family’s legacy of caring for the Old Salem Shrine, or the Little White Church, on Upper 55th Street. She was president of the trustee committee for nearly 40 years, ensuring this historical landmark which her great grandfather helped found was preserved for future generations.
Professionally, Jill was a realtor for 10 years and a mortgage broker and underwriter for 34 years.
Jill dearly loved to travel and was sure to check off bucket list trips after her cancer diagnosis in July 2018. She took an Alaskan cruise, toured New England for the fall colors, and visited her brother Dave in Nevada and friends in Arizona this past winter. She often planned trips for her “high school group,” classmates from Sibley Class of 1963.
She is preceded in death by her parents, Cyrus and Edith Zehnder. Survived by siblings Bartley (Joanne) Zehnder, David Zehnder and Laurie (Don) Dinger; children, Mark (Lisa) Lewis, Amy (John) Nugent and her adopted “British Daughter,” Emma Bannister; 6 grandkids; 3 great grandkids; and many dear classmates from Sibley High School Class of 1963.
A celebration of life will be held later.
In lieu of memorials, the family requests gifts to:
Project Purple, funding pancreatic cancer research and patient financial aid:
Old Salem Shrine:
Inver Grove Heights BEST Foundation: