Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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January 29, 2012

Couple finds pleasure in family

MILLERSBURG — Jean and Jesse Ax, Millersburg, were introduced by Jean’s cousin at the Elkhart County Fair, when it was held at Rice Field. They married in 1957 at the Lutheran church at Millersburg.

They raised three daughters and a son, all of whom live in the area. They are Susie Ax, Diane Kritzman, Kathy Eash and Jeff Ax. They have five grandchildren, one great-grandchild and a second is due any day.

Jesse was born and raised in Millersburg. He and a sister were raised by grandparents. Jean grew up in Goshen, but grandparents had a farm in the Millersburg area. The couple lives at a 40-acre farm that belonged to her family.

Jean worked as a teacher’s aid in special education at Westview High School for 15 years. She also delivered The Goshen News for a time and worked a few years at News Printing Co.

Jesse said he joined the U.S. Army in 1956 and served two years with the Nike Army guided missile service in Wisconsin. He thought he would eventually be drafted, and took an uncle’s advice of joining “to get it over with.” There were 12 missile areas in Chicago, 12 areas near Detroit and Jesse was part of the eight areas in Milwaukee.

“We said we were guarding the beer industry,” Jesse joked. He served two years, running radar and driving truck, before being discharged in 1958.

The Axes may be best known for operating Jesse’s Little Store, a package liquor store, as well as a gas station in Millersburg. They operated the store for 29 years before selling it four years ago.

The store expanded when the Handy Pantry closed in Millersburg, Jean said, and they had to run back and forth between their two stores. “It was my bright idea to put in candy bars. When the Handy Pantry closed we put groceries in,” she said.

Jesse is also a long-time member of the Millersburg American Legion. He served as commander for three years. He has been a part of the Legion’s food drive, and this winter the organization helped six families.

“I’ve never seen so much food,” he said of the results this winter.

Celebrate birthdays

The Ax family gets together often and will soon celebrate the five family birthdays in January, Jean said.

While she said she has traveled to Florida with relatives, “we don’t get too far from home. I would miss my family, the grandkids.”

“We’ve seen a lot of soccer and basketball games,” Jesse said, as the couple supported their grandkids.

Instead of traveling in the wintertime, Jesse said his job is to keep firewood in the stove and hauling ashes out.

Jean keeps busy working on the books for their son’s trucking business. She said she has an interest in genealogy, continuing work her mother started. She said her mother traced ancestors on both sides of her family back to Switzerland.

Jean also has collected dishes and Pyrex mixing bowls in recent years.

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Thousands of people flock to downtown Goshen each month for First Fridays, which has steadily strengthened into a Goshen tradition. What is your favorite First Fridays theme?

Fire & Ice Festival (Jaunary)
Crusin’ Reunion (July)
Sandblast! beach volleyball (August)
Arts Tour (November)
Hometown holiday (December)
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