Leading the Society was ‘dream job’ for Mark Jerstad

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Grandson of the Good Samaritan Society’s founder August “Dad” Hoeger, Mark Jerstad grew up with the Society’s mission of serving others in his heart. Earning his dream job as the organization’s president and CEO in 1989, Mark cherished the role to the day he died from colon cancer in 1997 at the age of 54.

“As soon as we became good friends, he told me about his life. A big part of it was Good Samaritan,” Sandy Jerstad, Mark’s wife, says.

The couple started dating when they were students at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. While Mark would eventually serve as the campus pastor at Augustana University (1977-1985) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, he always had the Society on his mind.

“When he was 17, he hitchhiked to Colorado to work as a nurse’s aide in one of the homes out there and just loved it,” Sandy says.

Like his grandpa, Sandy says Mark had a sense of humor and a drive to make a difference.

“In the morning, very basic and simple, (Dad Hoeger’s) prayer was always, ‘Lord what would you have me do today?’ I think I saw my husband the same way,” Sandy says. “Mark also loved older people and people who were in need. There’s that same heartfelt desire to be of help to those people who really needed help.”

‘He spent time with everybody’

Shepherding one of the largest nonprofit providers for senior care and services into the computer age, reforming an employee investment program and encouraging administrators to pursue master’s degrees are a few big accomplishments during his tenure.