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In Memoriam: Jack Gustafson ’19

Jacob Jack Gustafson ’19 passed away in Germany on Friday, March 30. Students, faculty, staff and members of the wider Grinnell community shared their memories of Jack at a vigil held in JRC 101 on April 2. Jack held a presence in all parts of campus life, from the track field to Frisbee, to Read Hall, the psychology SEPC and Prairie Canary. The S&B received the following quotes in remembrance of Jack.


Jack Gustafson and I first talked about a month before college began. He ended our conversation over Facebook by saying, “Carrie, I think we’re going to be great friends.” I doubted him, but I would learn to never doubt the love and intentions of this man. He was more right than either of us could have imagined.

Jackie Boy was my best friend, and I am by far the luckiest person ever to have known such unconditional, unadulterated love from him. He never faltered, and used everyday to show me the kind of love and friendship he thought I deserved.

I could write books about this man, and I will. Jack wanted the best life for me. He comforted me in my darkest times, every time, in hopes that they would be only memories and not common occurrences. I will continue to try to live the life that Jack wanted for me — a happy one, and love-filled one, a beautiful one. He did his best everyday to give me that.

– Carrie Stallings ’19

Jack was a truly luminescent human being. I met him when we were on Loosehead student staff together and he immediately delighted me with his enthusiasm for literally everything. Group bonding activities, his Pokemon door decs, room draw, Jack could get pumped up for anything. Beyond being a CA, he also was on the ultimate frisbee team, the psychology SEPC and even founded his own club: Smash Club. He said it was a beautiful sight to behold to see 20 people laughing and playing Smash together. Jack was one of the people who truly took joy in seeing those around him happy. He was famous for his great hugs and winning smile. He loved meeting new people and welcoming them into his life. He loved going on adventures and I was really happy to see him go abroad, and even though it breaks my heart that I won’t see him again, I know that he lives on through all the people’s lives that he touched.

– Emily McClure ’18

“I only got to know Jack for a brief time through our German 101 class last semester. I will miss his distinctive, hearty laugh. I attended his informative psychology presentation and loved the humor he added into it. I especially loved the part where Jack told us he walked all around University of Wisconsin-Madison’s campus with his resume and tirelessly looked for someone who would allow him to conduct his research until he succeeded.”

– Linnet Adams ’21

Jack was an amazing teammate, friend, and brother.  His ever-present smile and outgoing nature made him a friend to all.  He had a tremendous impact across our entire campus community.  We miss you Jack.

– Coach Jeff Pedersen, track and field

I had Jack in two classes:  Social Psychology with Lab and Research Methods — both during his second year.

Jack’s enthusiasm, positive outlook, and genuine interest in others all contributed to a great classroom dynamic.  We had a gathering with psychology majors yesterday; one of the recurring themes was his positive relationships with others — both faculty and students

– Professo Laura Sinnett, psychology

The psychology faculty all are profoundly saddened to hear of the loss of psychology major Jack Gustafson.  Jack was an active member of our psychology community, he represented his classmates on our SEPC, he was a member of Psi Chi, and he was well-known around campus. Jack was a lively, caring, and engaged individual, and we all will miss him deeply.

– Ann Ellis on Behalf of the Psychology Faculty:

Janet Gibson, Emma Kelty-Stephen, Damian Kelty-Stephen, David Lopatto, Ellen O’Malley, Chris Ralston, Nancy Rempel-Clower, Laura Sinnett, Andi Tracy

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