Dr. John "Jack" Close

November 6, 1935May 7, 2019

Dr. John “Jack” Close, 83, died on May 7, 2019 while in hospice care for advanced COPD at his home in Heritage Court Assisted Living in West Des Moines. A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at Faith Lutheran Church in Clive. Interment will be at a later date at Resthaven Cemetery.

Jack was born in Menomonie, WI to Esther and Ernest Close on November 6, 1935. He grew up on the family farm for the first 10 years. His avid participation in Scouts earned him the highest rank attainable, Eagle Scout. With a fine tenor voice, he sang in choirs and also played the trombone and piano. At the University of Wisconsin, he earned the Bachelor of Music Education. Upon graduation he took a position as a professional Scout Executive in the Boy Scouts of America in Waukegan, IL where he met his wife Elaine Toll through church. They were happily married for over 45 years from 1960 and had two children, Heidi and Peter. Jack served in the U.S. Army National Guard as an administrative assistant. Beginning in 1963 he taught K-12 music in Monroe, WI. After attending the University of Michigan to earn a Master’s in Choral Music Education, he returned to teaching in Monroe where he directed many memorable musical theater productions in the schools. Further graduate studies took him to the University of Iowa, where he earned a PhD before being appointed professor of Music Education at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, a position he held for over 25 years before retiring. Jack and Elaine enjoyed traveling to Europe, China and throughout the United States, sometimes for vacation, but also in connection to Jack’s work. In 1995, he was awarded a senior Fulbright scholarship to teach in Africa. During that sabbatical year Elaine and Jack made their home in Tanzania, while he lectured at the University of Dar Es Salaam. Upon retirement from Concordia they moved to West Des Moines to be closer to family. Throughout his life, Jack served the church sharing his musical gifts in various congregations as a choir director, cantor or member of the choir. In West Des Moines, he tutored children in reading and math for several years at Fairmeadows Elementary School as a volunteer retiree.

He is survived by his daughter, Dr. Heidi Close (Charles Hean) of West Des Moines and their children, Calvin and Abigail; and his son, Peter (Karin Sassmannshaus) of Munich, Germany and their children, Cindy and Evelyn. Jack is also survived by his sister, Juan (Jo) Alitz of Cedar Rapids. He was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine; parents, Esther and Ernest; brother-in-law, Orville Alitz; and his niece, Elizabeth Clause.

Memorials may be directed to Faith Lutheran Church.

Special thanks to his care providers at Heritage Court for making him comfortable.


  • Memorial Service Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Dr. John "Jack" Close

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