Jay Esch



Jay Arthur Esch died on June 11, 2024 at age 62. His family and loved ones are devastated by his passing as a result of a traumatic brain injury sustained in a bike accident. The families touched by organ and tissue donation have new hope through his gifts of life.

Jay was born on March 30, 1962 in Dubuque, Iowa, to James and Joan Esch. He attended Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville (class of 1980) and was a proud alumnus of Iowa State University where he graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (class of 1985).

Jay and his wife Lynn met at Iowa State, in Calculus class. That connection led to many hours of writing equations across chalkboards and eventually to discussions of the heart. They recently celebrated 39 years of marriage, and raised two amazingly wonderful daughters, Ellen and Jayne. In the past year, Jay was incredibly delighted to become a grandparent. He frequently visited, took care of, and patiently entertained both of his young grandsons. Jay’s steadfast presence, servant heart, and curiosity in life feels irreplaceable to those blessed to love him.

Jay and Lynn lived in the Twin Cities for several years before finding their forever home on a hobby farm in River Falls, Wis. and later, a spot along Lake Superior on Madeline Island. Jay loved spending time appreciating the outdoors - he enjoyed frequent bicycle adventures, cross-country skiing, paddling and swimming on Madeline Island, walking his beloved dog companions, and spent countless hours behind the wheel of John Deere tractors from his father and father-in-law that he restored and stubbornly maintained for years. Jay also loved traveling to new places, exploring new technologies, sharing and teaching others his many talents, and tinkering with and customizing his home. His stewardship of the 60-acre farm he called home grew to include a wide variety of farm animals, crops, prairies, bees, berries, and solar collection. The problems he helped others solve in brainstorming sessions, often followed by the production of 3D printed gadgets, replacement parts, or custom signage, serve as a reminder of his creativity and ingenuity.

Jay was an active community member and volunteer for many organizations. His dedication to the Unitarian Universalist Society of River Falls (UUSRF) is reflected in the building and ground maintenance he performed, and he was recently elected to the church board. Jay was also an involved election volunteer for the Town of Martell. Jay’s service was also memorable for the many years he silently handled all the complexities of running the software boards for numerous River Falls competitive swim teams.

Jay’s mechanical engineering career began and ended with 28 years of service at 3M, in addition to years working at Imation, Kodak, and Phillips Plastics. Jay’s career was noted by his meticulous engineering notes and notorious hand-solving of triple integrals, and he was a key leader and champion for additive manufacturing (i.e., 3D printing). Jay started at 3M in 1985 working in Design & Engineering Services (DES) doing computer modeling and retired in 2022 after time in the Central Research Process Technology Lab (CRPTL) and the Software, Electronic, and Mechanical Systems (SEMS) group. Jay’s leadership of the Rapid Prototyping Center (RPC; 3D printing and 3D digital knitting lab) provided services across all of 3M and made much of the company’s innovation possible with 3D-printed prototypes. Over his career, Jay was also involved with process development of industrial respirators, medical imaging devices, and fall protection among other projects, and is a co-inventor on six issued patents. Jay offered his wisdom and talent as he mentored new employees and interns, and enjoyed maintaining connections with his colleagues in retirement.

Jay’s love, kind heart, and adventurous soul lives on in his wife Lynn Huiskamp-Esch; daughter Ellen Esch (Tyan Thomas) and grandson Vernon of Lake Elmo, Minn.; daughter Jayne Esch (Jacob Achen) and grandson Ellsworth of Attica, Ind.; mother Joan Esch of Dyersville, Iowa; siblings Alan (Kell) Esch of Epworth, Iowa, Carla (Scott) Larsen of Johnston, Iowa, Jenny (Ray) Kirsch of Dyersville, Iowa, Shelly (Scott) Schoer of Waterloo, Iowa, and Jill (Jeff) Schmitt of Dubuque, Iowa; brother-in-law Daniel (Julie) Huiskamp of Cresco, Iowa, and sister-in-law Janne Huiskamp Long of Delhi, Iowa. The community of many friends, colleagues, neighbors, and others whom Jay’s life touched also love and miss him deeply. He was preceded in death by his father, James Esch and parents-in-law Henry and Julia Huiskamp.

Jay’s memorial will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Society of River Falls (UUSRF, N8010 US Highway 65 River Falls, WI 54022) on July 20. Visitation is from 12-3:30 p.m. with a service and meal to follow at 4 p.m. Memories, pictures and videos of Jay can be shared (emailed) to jayesch.memories@gmail.com. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Madeline Island Wilderness Preserve, Forward: River Falls Public Schools Education Foundation, or Marbleseed in support of local farming systems.