A Family Funeral Home

Clair William Jenn

August 4, 1926 - September 5, 2022
Racine, WI



Friday, September 16, 2022
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM CDT
St. Rita Catholic Church
4339 Douglas Ave.
Racine, WI 53402


Friday, September 16, 2022
11:00 AM CDT
St. Rita Catholic Church
4339 Douglas Ave.
Racine, WI 53402


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Rawhide Youth Services/Boys Ranch
E7475 Rawhide Rd.
New London, WI 54961
1 (800) 729-4433

Habitat for Humanity
1501 Villa St.
Racine, WI 53403
(262) 637-9176

Life Story / Obituary


Clair W. Jenn, age 96, passed away peacefully on September 5, 2022, in Madison WI. He was born on August 4, 1926, son of the late William and Margaret [Ries] Jenn in New Hampton, IA. In his long-lived 20th century + life, Clair kept on going, reenergizing, and adapting himself to meet life’s circumstances—pleasant or difficult, in life-affirming ways.

Clair was a farm boy. His great grandfather, Joseph Marion, Sr, homesteaded a farm in 1840 near North Washington, IA, after immigrating to America from Alsace Lorraine, France. Clair’s father was the next generation to farm this rich land, bordering the Wapsipinicon River. Clair grew up loving the outdoors, watching farm animals and the mink, foxes, and racoons his father raised for their furs. Clair avidly watched and learned from his father’s inventive forge work in his farm shop, as his father built many labor-saving devices from ideas and articles printed in magazines, including a log sawmill for lumber cutting, and a machine to harvest ice from the river. As Clair grew older, he loved to hunt on the farm and the surrounding areas and fish in the river, helping provide food for his family.

Clair’s mother highly valued education. She ensured he put in needed time and effort for studies despite demands of farm work. Thus, he graduated from Immaculate Conception Grade and High School in North Washington, IA. Clair liked to say he was the smartest boy in his High School graduating class, adding---“I was the ONLY boy in my class!” After graduation Clair was drafted, joining the Marines, and serving his country in World War II. After basic training in Okinawa, Japan, he was assigned to the First Marine Air Wing in Tsingtao, China. When the Chinese Communists were about to take over Tsingtao, the Marines left, returning to the US. After discharge in January 1947, Clair benefitted from the G.I. Bill, becoming a first-generation male college student, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee, WI.

In Milwaukee, he met Corrine Woelfel, the “girl with a beautiful singing voice” at a dance. On May 30, 1951, they married. As their family life began and grew to include five children, they moved to Sioux City IA, Madison WI, and Appleton WI, while Clair found work in the insurance industry as a Fire Protection Engineer. In August of 1957, Clair accepted a position for the City of Racine, WI, Department of Traffic and Lighting, becoming Head of the Department in 1965---a position he held until he retired in 1989. Like his father, Clair investigated and invented. Over his tenure, numerous improvements were made in city street lighting and traffic signalized intersections. A computerized central traffic control system was designed and installed. Parking lots and ramps were built. Public transit broadened, as the City took over the bus system, purchased new buses and hired a firm to operate the system. Upon early retirement, Clair helped provide health care for Corrine. On March 15, 1990, his loving wife, Corrine, passed away after a long illness. She was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Racine, beside their daughter, Mary [Terry] Jenn, who died in adolescence from illness.

Clair eventually decided to travel, taking his first trip to Europe, guided by confident cousin-in-law-tour guide, Robert Bodoh. Rejuvenated, Clair was blessed upon returning home, to meet vivacious Betty Vojtko of Racine, whose colorful personality brought laughter and liveliness to all. After marrying on May 23, 1992, the two retirees took to the road, traveling together across the US. Clair cherished their nine years of “seeing America.” October 1, 2001, Betty passed away suddenly and was buried in West Lawn Cemetery in Racine.

Another late-life blessing was bestowed when Clair met the determined and always resourceful, Inga Harrits of Racine. They shared a childhood background of growing up on a farm around the same time, but in very different places----she in Denmark, he in America. They married November 15, 2003. Together they built a home, sharing it with family and friends, always offering good company, Inga’s Danish humor, and a tasty dinner to guests. They danced and played cards often and well into the night, until his lovely partner passed away on February 8, 2019.

Clair’s children have loved and grown from his steadfast, reliable, practical fatherhood as he did what he could for each in his own way and style. He is survived by those children, Dr. David Jenn of Monterrey, CA, Barbara Jenn of New York, NY, Tom [Megan McLachlan] Jenn of Appleton, WI, and Mark [Becky] Jenn of Madison, WI, his grandchildren Colby, Eli, Luke and Scott Jenn, his siblings Jane [Steve] Mumm, Louise Jenn, William [Josie] Jenn, and Tom Jenn. He was preceded in death by his parents William and Margaret, his stepmother Mary Jenn, his three wonderful wives, Corrine, Betty and Inga, his daughter Mary [Terry], his sisters Leona [Ray] Rapacz, Florence [Stan] Urbaniak, and his brother Norbert [Betty] Jenn.

Clair’s family appreciatively thank the compassionate staff at Primrose Assisted Living in Racine and All Saints Assisted Living and Memory Care in Madison, and Inga’s daughter and son-in-law, Lynn and Mark Svendsen, for all the kind and caring support they provided to Clair in his later years.

A visitation will be held from 10:00 - 11:00 am on Friday, September 16th at St. Rita’s Catholic Church, 4339 Douglas Avenue, Racine, WI, followed by a Mass and Christian Burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to be made to: Rawhide Youth Services/Boys Ranch, Waupaca, WI or Habitat for Humanity, Racine, WI.