Jillian Louise Flink, age 25, formerly of Austin, died Sunday, December 14, 2014 in Fridley, MN. She was born June 3, 1989 in Austin, Minnesota, the youngest daughter of Jerry and Sunnee (Johnson) Flink. Jillian was proud and pleased to be from Austin. From an early age she took advantage of all the city of Austin had to offer. Before she was a week old, she had attended 5th grade graduation, a Girl Scout-Brownie fly-up ceremony, a 4H softball game, and several rummage sales. As a preschooler, she loved attending Apple Lane’s Montessori program. As a child, Jillian eagerly looked forward to 3rd grade when she could become an official 4H-er. She contributed to making the meetings fun, and enjoyed her camp opportunities. Jillian found it important to be not just a spectator, but an active participant in helping make the Mower County Fair one of the best in the state. She especially enjoyed participating in the dog, pet, indoor garden, and rabbit projects, often garnering champion awards at both the county and state levels. She continued to be a 4H member until she graduated from the program, and then volunteered her time as a leader and rabbit project bowl coach. Jillian had a special talent with rabbits. She was on the rabbit judging team and was a member of the 4H rabbit quiz bowl team for 13 years, serving as captain and often earning top honors at the district and state levels. She bred champion Holland Lops and participated in showmanship contests at rabbit shows throughout the tri-state region, earning the coveted Best In Show and Premiere Display honors at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair. Jillian sold quality rabbits to 4H-ers and could often be found at shows helping others choose stock to improve their herds. She was a member of the American Rabbit Breeders Association, the Minnesota State Rabbit Breeders Association, and the Cedar River Rabbit Club, receiving the title MSRBA Princess twice in grade school, and two academic scholarships from CRRC. Jillian advocated for all animals, volunteering at the Mower County Humane Society while in junior high. Over the years she learned to swim like a porpoise at the YMCA, sail down the slide at the municipal pool, utilize area parks, waterways, and trails, and play in park and rec sports. Jillian’s other activities as a youth included participating in camps and activities at the J.C. Hormel Nature Center, attending plays and concerts, and marching in many parades. As a drummer and musician, Jillian participated in various musical groups including bands, orchestras, choirs, and bell choirs. She studied piano and music theory for 14 years, and enjoyed the many programs, activities, and borrowing opportunities at the Austin Public Library. Jillian was grateful for the wonderful education she received from Austin Public Schools, especially after she had left town and realized not everyone had been so fortunate. She appreciated the clean, well-maintained facilities, extensive curriculum, fun Kid’s Korner program, science and math camps, and extra-curricular activities available to students. There were many dedicated staff members with whom Jillian maintained a positive relationship. Her passion was band and orchestra, especially the percussion section. She especially enjoyed playing the quad drum set at pep fests, games, and parades. Jillian felt it was her job to drum ‘Packer Pride’ into the crowd. She was humbled by and grateful for the generous scholarships she received, especially the Horatio Alger Award. Jillian had several collections, including zebras, Fenton glass, global art, drums, leprechauns, and tie-dyed t-shirts. Although she felt welcome in all faith communities, Jillian was a baptized and confirmed member of First United Methodist Church, as were five generations before her. She was active in Sunday school and vacation Bible school, participating in several programs and youth groups at many area churches. She was a member of the musical praise team and looked forward to Bible camp each summer. Jillian also was active as a Volunteer In Mission, participating in local, regional, national, and global missions. She had a special affinity for the people of Haiti and was eagerly anticipating a third visit this spring. Jillian loved to travel, near and far, long or short, alone or with others. She attended Hamline University in St. Paul and was expecting to complete her degree in social work at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, where she was currently enrolled. Her hope was to pursue a Master’s Degree in environmental social work. Jillian was employed full-time during much of her matriculation at Metro State, working as a special education assistant at Learning for Leadership Charter School in Minneapolis and at Dependable Home Health Care as a direct support professional. She was very devoted to her students and clients and was always trying to come up with new outings and activities to enhance their education and enrich their lives. Jillian was very inclusive, enjoying friendships with diverse people based on their personal merit. John Wesley said, “The world is my parish.” For Jillian, the world was her friend.
Jillian is survived by her parents, Jerry and Sunnee Flink of Austin, her sisters Julene Flink of St. Paul, Krista (Troy) Heinz of Mount Sterling, WI; her grandfather Clestine Johnson of Austin; nephews Tyler and Tanner; other relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her maternal grandmother Mildred Johnson, her paternal grandparents John and Shirley Flink, her great-grandparents Holger and Blanche Flink, Walter and Dorothy Klingfus, Joseph and Frances Kraft, Harvey and Bernice Johnson, her uncle Mark Johnson, and special great aunt LaDonna Johnson.
Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 20, 2014 at the First Congregational Church UCC in Austin, with Rev. Shari Mason officiating. Visitation will be held from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on Friday, December 19 at Worlein Funeral Home in Austin, and one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. Interment will be in Oakwood Cemetery. Memorials can be directed to First United Methodist Church Mission Teams, Mower County Humane Society, Austin Public Schools Music Department or recipient of donor's choice. Worlein Funeral Home of Austin is assisting the family with arrangements.