Geoffrey “Jeff” Willard Saari, of Mora, died on Monday, July 12, 2021, at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. He was 79 years old.

Lovingly known as Jeff, he was born on Feb. 14, 1942, to William and Helmi (Pesola) Saari at Lake Pokegema Hospital. The family moved to Sleepy Eye when he was in fourth grade. He graduated from Sleepy Eye High School in 1960. While in high school he was part of a nationally ranked drum and bugle corp. He then attended Augsburg College, graduating in 1964 and later went on to achieve his master’s and specialist degrees.  

He was united in marriage to Dianne Swanson in 1963, and they were blessed with four children.

He was a band director at Mora. The band was selected to participate at the World’s Fair in Montreal, Canada in 1967. He later became a school administrator in Milaca and Sartell. He received an award as administrator of the year. He directed church choirs during his college years and later at Calvary Lutheran Church in Mora for 35 years. He had a strong faith in God and served a term as president of congregation and on other various church committees over the years.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

He is survived by his wife, Dianne; children, Michael, Steve (Karen), Janel and Kristin (Scott) Pasternack; grandchildren, Erin, Chad, Jasmine, Owen, Tanner, Alyssa and Hannah; great-grandchildren, Nicole and Isaiah; brothers, Mark (Deanne) and Dan (Cher); as well as many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

A memorial service was held on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at Calvary Lutheran Church with Pastor Dean Oelfke officiating. Music was provided by Barb Seaton and Bill Fisher. Condolences may be posted at

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