A giving couple

Bud and Jane Engh, a retired couple from Mankato, were killed in a car accident in Iowa.

Minnesota State biology professor Bill Bessler’s first impression of Bud and Jane Engh was indelible.

It was in the late 1960s when Bessler came to Mankato from Indiana to interview for a teaching position at then-Mankato State College.

Bessler and wife Marilyn knew no one in town, but the Enghs — Bud had been teaching in the biology department since 1966 — graciously hosted the couple and allowed them to camp on their rural Mankato property.

“They were two of the most kind and gentle people we’ve known,” Bessler said of the Enghs, who died in a car accident last week in Iowa.

Helmer (Bud) was 73, his wife was 67, and both were retired — Bud from MSU and Jane from her work as a Mankato librarian.

Bud, who delivered for the Meals on Wheels program in his retirement, was a well-rounded academician, Bessler said.

“He was very personable with students in the sense that he’d go out of his way to help them. He valued the relationships he had with students, and he was always extremely well-prepared and very meticulous.”

He also had a droll sense of humor, Bessler said.

Bud taught human heredity and would use cartoons in class to prime his pupils for that day’s session.

Bessler recalls one cartoon in particular, that of a masked robber saying “This is a stickup” as he held up a bank — a sperm bank.

Retired St. Clair High School teacher Wayne Anderson had Bud for an instructor in the late 1960s.

“I was very fortunate to have him as a teacher. He was on the top of his game,” Anderson said. “He was everything that I thought a good teacher should be.”

As a librarian, Jane is remembered for her diligence that went beyond the call of duty.

“She was very tenacious about finding things for people. She was fabulous at that. It didn’t matter who it was or what it was,” Blue Earth County Library circulation clerk Denise Statham said. “She went the extra mile to help people find things.”

Friend and colleague Joanne Boelke worked with Jane for 18 years.

“As a friend she was always there for me. Such a caring, giving person — and fun.”

When Boehlke moved into a townhouse four years ago, the Enghs gave their unsolicited help.

“I still have my kitchen things the way Jane arranged them for me,” Boelke said.

Bud was a loyal campaign worker for former state Rep. John Dorn of Mankato for 20 years.

“They were great, salt-of-the-earth, solid citizens. Very unpretentious and very bright,” Dorn said.

The Enghs were on their way to visit Jane’s 96-year-old father in Illinois when the accident occurred near Cedar Rapids.

A combined memorial service will be 2 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Mankato.

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