For prospective students visiting Knox, Beth Jonsberg was the first person they’d come to about visiting classes or meeting an athletic coach. To her team in the Admission Office, Jonsberg will be remembered as a vibrant spirit who expressed her thoughts and opinions with candor and excitement.
Jonsberg passed away unexpectedly Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015 in her Galesburg home. She was 51.
Born and raised in Galesburg, Jonsberg attended Carl Sandburg College before she graduated from Keele University in England in 1996. She started at Knox as a receptionist in 1999 before taking over as Campus Visit Coordinator.
Those who worked with her in Admission remember her as a passionate woman who took her job seriously.
“Beth was memorable, just from the style of the clothes she wore, how she spoke to you. To me what I really enjoyed about her is that when she was talking to me she was in the moment … I just remember that from when I first met her,” said Associate Director of Admission DeVone Eurales. She was one of the first people he met when he was hired in 2008.
Jonsberg painted and made collages that she would display on her Facebook page. She loved “Modern Family” and the “Andy Griffith Show,” and she loved her Boston Terrier, Chloe Rose.
She had a unique sense of style and always wore a lot of jewelry and cowboy boots.
“She drove supervisor after supervisor crazy with those cowboy boots, but she would push the limit just to get those cowboy boots in when she could, she’s the only one who could get away with it,” said Admission Receptionist Amy Welty, who met Jonsberg in 2006.
Students who worked with Jonsberg in the Admission Office said that she was always encouraging and made sure to congratulate students for their work in the office. Celinda Davis ‘15 worked with Jonsberg as a student tour guide from her sophomore to senior year. She said that Jonsberg always went out of her way to tell tour guides when a family had complimented them.
“That was incredible to have,” Davis said. “She was really a champion of the visit program at Knox.”
The role of Campus Visit Coordinator involves coordinating the schedules of multiple prospective students and juggling various meetings, lunches and events. She was “intricately involved” with every student who visited, Eurales said, to such an extent that families would often come back on move-in day to give Jonsberg gifts, or just to say hi.
“She went above and beyond. She thought about it, she slept about it, making sure the students got what they needed,” Eurales said.
Sophomore Alex Contreras, who currently works as a Student Visit Ambassador, noted that Jonsberg helped to plan and make the visit of anyone who currently is on the Knox campus special.
“Everyone here who visited, visited and had a good time because of Beth,” Contreras said. “For those people that apply and visit and love Knox because of their visit — it’s all because of Beth.”
As a Student Visit Ambassador, Contreras worked directly under Jonsberg’s supervision. It has been difficult not to have Jonsberg in the office this week.
“She was just super personable to everyone that she met. It was nice having that energy in the office; it’s been really hard this past week. I worked in front of her office. Her not being there, it’s tough,” he said.
From Jonsberg’s example, Davis said she learned how to make other people’s days beautiful even when she was having a bad day herself.
“The best cure for your day is to give love and give kindness and give beauty and she did that every day,” Davis said. “She was so warm and kind when she came out to greet visitors.”
For the first time Eurales or Welty could remember, the Office of Admission closed in the middle of the week for Jonsberg’s funeral. They’ve spent time remembering Jonsberg and sharing stories.
“She lived big. Whatever she did, she worked hard. She loved big. She laughed big. She had a big voice,” Welty said. “To look at her, she was no wallflower.”