COUNCIL BLUFFS — Longtime banker Jerry Jares died Saturday after a battle with melanoma.
Jares, 60, had left specific instructions to his family: No black at his funeral.
So Tuesday, his wife and daughters went shopping. Karen Jares and daughters Katie Hail-Jares and Abby Jares perused store aisles for brilliant colors, hues that signify a celebration.
“Dad didn't want us to wear black,” Abby Jares said.
“My dad really wanted it to be a celebration. Didn't want us to be sad, to celebrate his life.”
The celebration of Jares' life was held Thursday evening at Hoy-Kilnoski Funeral Home.
Jares spent his life working to be happy rather than sad, filling any room he could with an infectious, distinct laugh.
“One of the most important gifts he gave Katie and I was he taught us how to be happy,” Abby Jares said.
Jerry Jares grew up in St. Paul, Neb. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Colorado School of Banking.
He worked at the St. Paul National Bank and Fillmore County Bank in Geneva, Neb., before moving to Council Bluffs in 1984 to join U.S. Bank (formerly First National Bank of Council Bluffs). Jares spent 13 years as Council Bluffs market president at the bank, before retiring and teaming with a group of friends to found Access Bank in Omaha.
The avid reader was a member of the Book Fellows club. He volunteered with First Congregational Church in the Bluffs and was on the original executive committee of the Wabash Trace and on the investment committee at Children's Square USA, among many endeavors.
“What I'll really miss is the way my dad imparted a sense of public service to me, to us,” Hail-Jares said. “He imparted an ability to care for everyone, regardless of who they were or how they came into your life.”
His wife of 31 years, Karen Jares, remembered her husband's thirst for knowledge. In his banking role he learned as much as he could about the businesses he helped. She remembered his fascination with Council Bluffs-based American Games, which creates gaming cards for keno, scratch-off tickets, lotteries and more.
“He just enjoyed learning about that,” she said. “That was one of the driving forces in his life, to learn, to explore new things.”
About that laugh: Daughter Abby recounted the time she and sister Katie bought their parents tickets to see a production of “A Prairie Home Companion” in St. Paul, Minn. When the radio show hit the radio waves later, the family could hear Jerry's guffaws throughout the show.
“You always knew when my dad was in the room,” Abby Jares said. “Because you'd always hear him laughing.”