The legacy of Jake Moe

Published 10:58 am Thursday, July 19, 2012

Megan Moe. left, sits with friend Mindy Neilen, who is organizing a camping outing dedicated to the memory of Megan's husband, Jake Moe, who was killed in a car accident earlier this year. -- Eric Johnson/

Wife plans event to keeps husband’s memory alive

Megan Moe misses her husband’s smile, how he smiled with his whole face. And his laugh. And all the things she thought were annoying at the time. She still remembers the way Jake laughed, and how funny he was.

“He laughed all the time,” she said. “It was just fun to be around him.”

Jacob Moe died Feb. 25 in a car crash that also claimed the life of his friend, Luke Unverzagt. Both men were 32, and both lived in Austin. Their deaths created a large outpouring of community support, as both men were well-known in town.

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“When you met Jake, you could not help but just want to be his friend,” said family friend Mindy Neilon, who, along with Megan is organizing “The Jake Moe Experience,” a day-long fundraiser and festival filled with activities for children starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 21, at Myrtle Park and Hunter’s Bar in Myrtle, Minn.

“He made everybody a better person, and he was just seriously the most awesome guy.” Neilon said.

Jake was a small-town kind of guy, and a long-time Austin resident. Megan remembers meeting him in high school, when he was a senior and she was only a freshman.

“I saw him, and we just connected ever since,” Megan said.

The two married in June of last year and have an 8-year-old son, Micah. Family and children were important to Jake, according to his loved ones. A carpenter for Anderson Construction, Jake often did finishing work. Megan remembers hearing a story about how Jake, on the job, would have a snack with the children of the family whose house he was working on, asking them how their day was, talking to them about the house. That was Jake, friendly to everyone, always willing to help friends and strangers alike.

“He always knew the right thing to say to everyone,” Megan said.

Family was always important to Jake, who would go boating with his family on weekends. He also enjoyed four-wheeling and cars, but it’s clear his passion was people.

“Everybody wanted to be around him,” Megan said.

Neilon remembers meeting a woman who came to Jake’s wake service who only met him once. The woman said she was out of gas on the side of the road. Jake stopped and helped her.

“That’s just the kind of guy he was,” Neilon said. “He was an amazing, kindhearted person.”

Megan said the community outpouring after Jake’s death was huge, as there were always people there for her and her family whenever she would feel lonely or lost.

“I can’t believe the outpour of support I’ve gotten,” she said. “Everybody has just been so wonderful. I’m so grateful to have everybody’s support.”

Megan, Neilon and other organizers want to make sure Jake isn’t forgotten with The Jake Moe Experience.

“We want it to be family friendly, because he, obviously he was a dad and he valued family,” said Neilon.

There will be a bouncy house, face painting and craft tables, as well as a bean bag tournament starting around noon. They will also hold a kickball tournament, as Megan and friends started a weekly kickball game in Jake’s honor after he passed. The tournament is $8 per person and bean bags are $16 per team. A silent auction will take place from 5 to 7 p.m.

Once the day is done, people can go to Hunter’s Bar, where country band All BS will play from 7 to 10 p.m., and Austin-based Conway & Company will play until close. Free camping will also be offered, but people need to email for more information. All proceeds will go to a carpentry program scholarship at Riverland Community College set up in Jake’s name.

“We just kind of wanted everybody to get together and remember Jake and what a great guy he is,” Megan said.

Megan wants people to keep remembering how good Jake was. She plans to continue organizing “The Jake Moe Experience” — named after a CD loved ones made for Jake’s burial — for years to come.

“I feel like he would be so proud,” Megan said. “He’d be so proud. Since there’s nothing else I can do, this is what I need to do, and I’ll do it every year. Keep everybody remembering him.”