Beloved Simpson student dies at 21


by Alex Kirkpatrick, Digital Editor

A beloved member of the Simpson community has died, according to friends and family.

Jake Hartvigsen passed away at 6:50 p.m. Saturday “with his trumpet in one arm and his loving family and friends in the other,” said those closest to him. He was 21. 

Hartvigsen, a junior from Audubon, was just diagnosed with terminal brain cancer earlier this year.

He was planning to get a bachelor’s degree in music education with a focus on trumpet. After graduation, he planned to work toward a master’s degree in music performance.

A member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, Iowa Bandmaster’s Association, music ensembles, choir and compositional studies, Hartvigsen was an active member in the community, according to friends and family.

In October 2015, a tumor was spotted in his brain. Hartvigsen underwent surgeries and radiation therapy to combat the tumor.

Those closest to Hartvigsen said his condition was thought to have been cleared in January. Then another mass was found on his spine.

After another surgery, he started to recover, but the cancer came back and was declared terminal, according to a GoFundMe page set up by family and friends to help with medical costs. The goal is $10,000.

“This money will go directly to the Hartvigsen family as they recover from this tragic time, and they will greatly appreciate any support they can receive. We thank you very much for your time, and please keep Jake and his family in your thoughts and prayers,” the page reads.

Those who knew Hartvigsen shared their memories on Facebook: 

“In loving memory. You were an incredible person inside and out. Your friends and family will remain strong, just as you did. With love,” Felicity Eward said. 

“Jake Hartvigsen has been one of my dearest friends since our very first weekend at Simpson College. Rather we were joking around before band or sitting in one of our rooms talking about life, this guy has had more of an impact on my collegiate life than I think he even knows,” Dalten Cross said.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Jake’s family in this time of grief and loss. Jake was a wonderful trumpet player and a valued member of the Simpson community and he will truly be missed,” Erin Wendover said. 

“As everyone knows by now, cancerous tumors are an issue seriously close to my heart. If you are able to help out, I know he and his family would appreciate it. I’m so happy to call this guy one of my best friends and he’ll always be a brother to me. Love you, Jake,” Kirby Ommen said.

For counseling services, students can schedule a time through the front desk of Student Development from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or email [email protected].

For students who wish to pray or gather, a station with candles is available at the front of Smith Chapel in the sanctuary.

Jan Everhart, a professor of religion, will also be available to help support students while the chaplain, Mara Bailey, is off campus. Bailey is expected to return on Feb. 26.

Funeral arrangements and services are to be determined.

To donate to the family, go to