Mr. Joseph “Joe” Jaeger, Jr., age 97 years, of Jefferson City, Mo., died Friday, May 20, 2016 at home surrounded by his family.
Joe was born April 7, 1919 in St. Louis, Mo., a first generation American, son of Hungarian immigrants, Joseph, Sr. and Rose Kausch Jaeger.  He was married on September 7, 1946 in Jefferson City, Mo. to Elizabeth Roe Jeffries.
Upon graduation from Roosevelt High School in St. Louis in 1937, he went to work at the Medicine Bow National Forest at Centennial, Wyoming, which triggered his enthusiasm for the outdoors.  In 1938, he attended the University of Wyoming in Laramie on a baseball scholarship.  His love of the outdoors soon expanded into interest in conservation and after his freshman year, he transferred to Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, where he was a member of the Sigma Phi Sigma social fraternity and edited the School of Forestry newsletter, “The Hi-Lead”  He received his B.S. in Forestry from Oregon State in 1942.  After World War II, he did graduate work at Indiana and Michigan Universities.
After graduation from Oregon State, Joe was accepted into the 10th Mountain Division of the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, also known as the “Ski Troops”.  He developed his skiing skills before it was a “sport” and refined them while training at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado.  His regiment was integrated into the Ninth Amphibious Task Force.  Joe served in the Aleutian Islands Campaign in Attu, Adak, and Kiska, Alaska where he was injured when his jeep hit a Japanese landmine.  He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service.
Upon discharge from the Army, the Missouri Conservation Commission hired him as District Forester in charge of the Lake of the Ozarks Fire Protection District, headquartered in Camdenton.  This job led to his life-long interest in the Lake of the Ozarks area.
In 1957, Governor James T. Blair appointed him Director of the Missouri State Parks.  During his tenure, he developed Missouri Park’s system into one of the nation’s finest. Joe oversaw the restoration of the Harry S. Truman Birthplace-Historic Site in Lamar, Missouri; the home of “Mark Twain,” Samuel Clemens, in Florida, Missouri; and the boyhood home of World War I General John Pershing in Laclede, Missouri.  The First Capitol of the State of Missouri in St. Charles was also taken into the State Park system under his guidance.  Joe worked closely with the National Park Service on numerous projects and parks, including the construction of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
In 1964, Joe resigned from the State Park system to become a Democratic candidate for Missouri Secretary of State.  Following his unsuccessful bid for that office, he was appointed by the United States Agency for International Development to lead a three- country project with England and Jordan.  He was sent to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan where he provided assistance to King Hussein in the development of a national park plan, tourist facilities, preservation of historic areas and wildlife conservation. Working with international preservationists, including Sir Julian Huxley, he oversaw the preservation of the “Red Rose City of Petra;” the restoration of the Village of Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered; and Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon.  Petra and Wadi Rum have since been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Upon his return to Missouri in October, 1965, he became the first executive secretary of the newly-created Inter-Agency for Outdoor Recreation.  In 1966, Joe was again appointed State Park Director, serving until 1973, making him the second-longest serving Director of State Parks for the state.
In 1975, he became a legislative consultant.  In 1993, he became involved with the Lake of the Ozarks Community Bridge Project.  Initially, he gained legislative approval for a new form of government/private enterprise joint construction project in Missouri and then spent several years acquiring various studies, environmental clearances, and financing for the project.  The bridge was dedicated on May 1, 1998.  He then spent ten years as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Lake of the Ozarks Community Bridge Corporation, retiring in 2008.
Joe spent most of his life in Jefferson City, where he served as a member of the Cole County Park Board.  He was a member of the State Parks Advisory Board from 1987 until 1997, serving as President in 1995.  He was an adjunct professor of Parks and Recreation at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  He served on the federal Lewis and Clark Trail Commission, the National Mississippi River Parkway Commission, and the Upper Mississippi Basin Commission. In 1999, he was Missouri’s representative to the Outdoor Recreation Review Commission and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources named its park employee training academy the Joseph Jaeger Academy of State Parks.  He was  Executive Vice-President of the Missouri Travel Council and the 1973 recipient of the Missouri Park and Recreation Association Fellow Award.
He was a member of the First Baptist Church, a life member of the Linn Creek, Missouri Lodge A.F. & A.M., Oregon State University Alumni Association, Disabled American Veterans, Oliver Buehrle Post 17.  He was also a sixty year member of both the American Legion, Roscoe Enloe Post 5 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Roy Sone Post 1003. Joe was a founder of the Missouri Parks Association and a member of the Missouri Parks and Recreation Association, having served as president for three years.  He was inducted into the Missouri Travel and Tourism Hall of Fame in 1984, and in March, 2009, he was a member of the first class of inductees of the Missouri Park and Recreation Hall of Fame.  Governor Warren E. Hearnes appointed him as an Honorary Colonel for the State of Missouri.
Growing up in St. Louis, Joe was a member of the “Knothole Gang” and became a St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan for life.  In his earlier years, Joe loved fishing and hunting. As his various projects and work duties expanded, he had less time to enjoy these activities but he always seemed to have a freezer full of fish and wild game given to him by his friends.  He never met a stranger and enjoyed traveling the world and spending time with his family and many wonderful friends.
Survivors include: his wife of sixty-nine years, Elizabeth; one daughter, Vicki Goldammer and her husband Jim of Jefferson City, Mo.; grandchildren, Matt Goldammer and his wife Kayo, and Cass Condra and her husband Taylor; great grandchildren, Jack Condra, Charles Condra, Mary Caroline Condra; one stepdaughter-in-law, Lois Jeffries of Jefferson City; step-grandchildren, Tiffany Moak and Bobby Jeffries; and step-great grandchildren, Elizabeth Moak, Mason Moak, and Annabelle Moak.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Jacob Jaeger, and his stepson, Robert Jeffries.
Visitation was at Freeman Mortuary from 1 until 2 p.m. Saturday, May 28.
A memorial service was conducted at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 28 in the Freeman Chapel with the Reverend Doyle Sager officiating.  Graveside services and entombment with military honors will be conducted at Hawthorn Memorial Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Missouri Park and Recreation Association Scholarship Charitable Trust-Joe Jaeger, c/o
Dr. Keith Ernce, Missouri State University, 901 S. National, KGSX 100, Springfield, MO 65897, Attn. MPR SCT; the Missouri State Parks Foundation, 201 West Broadway, Building #3, Columbia, MO 65203, or the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Missouri Chapter, 2400 Bluff Creek Drive, Columbia, MO 65201.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Freeman Mortuary.