Cover photo for Jeffrey Lee Poulson's Obituary
Jeffrey Lee Poulson Profile Photo
1951 Jeffrey 2023

Jeffrey Lee Poulson

December 22, 1951 — April 17, 2023

Jeffrey Lee "Jeff" Poulson, 71 of Sioux City, passed away on Monday, April 17, 2023 at his home, comforted by family.  Abiding by family wishes, cremation has taken place, and a Celebration of Life Service will be on Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. at Country Celebrations Event Center, 5606 Hamilton Blvd, Sioux City, with visitation and refreshments to follow. 

Jeffrey Lee Poulson 71, died just before sunrise on April 17, 2023. 

Jeff was a kind and humble man, and as real as they come. He had a sharp intellect, an unstoppable can-do attitude, a sense of adventure, great love for his family, loyalty and love for longtime friends, and a great love for all things Wyoming.

Born December 22, 1951, in Storm Lake, IA to Burt and Gretchen Poulson, he inherited an ancestral love for agriculture, deep respect for the land, and thanks to Granny Poulson a drive to buy dirt (farmland or pasture).

At the age of 10 the family uprooted and moved to Sioux City, IA. Prior to settling into their new home, the family took a month-long trip across the western United States visiting many National Parks and Disney land. On the trip home they crossed Wyoming and his lifetime love for the state began. Moving to Sioux City was a cultural shock to a farm boy, so he sought out creek beds to wander in, and started a lifelong passion for reading, especially books about anything military. Growing up he had great pride in uncles who were war heroes, creating a lifetime respect for veterans.  He was an encyclopedia of military history and could identify every airplane, warship, gun, or regimental patch on a uniform in a glance.

Never wavering on his love for agriculture, in 1968, while attending Central High School in Sioux City, IA, he worked summers as a farm hand for his father’s friend Bob Bebee. Seeing an opportunity, he rented the barn, surrounding pens and bought every feeder pig he could find. Using an old pickup, he hauled feed. When the time came to sell, he hit the market right and headed to the University of Wyoming in the Fall of 1970, with a new Chevy Nova he bought for $2,200, with part of the proceeds.

His time at the UW was lifechanging. He spent his next two summers working on Wyoming ranches outside of Thermopolis and Douglas, where his love for raising cattle, and his desire to own a ranch began. While there, he not only developed many of the most meaningful friendships in his life, but found the love of his life, Jan Benton, who in his eyes, had the added perk of being a Wyoming native.

Jeff had hopes of attending the University of Wyoming Law School, but when that fell short due to a UW top priority policy offering admission to Wyoming natives first.  In true style he searched for options, and secured acceptance into a conditional program at Drake University where he competed with quality candidates from all over the country, many from Ivy League schools. Acceptance meant he got to compete for one of three spots insuring admission into Drake Law School beginning the Fall 74’.  Jeff loaded up his car, kissed Jan goodbye, and along with his dog Elsie headed east with a view of mountains in the rear-view mirror.  The hot sweaty dorm in Des Moines and make-or-break competitive environment was a sharp contrast to the cool mountain air and warm Wyoming relationships he loved, but he rocked-it, and gained acceptance.  In a quick turnaround, he headed to Wyoming to ask Jan to marry him and returned to start law-school in late August of 74’.

Jeff and Jan were married on May 24, 1975, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and after a mountain filled camping-moon (honeymoon) headed to Iowa.

Jeff graduated from Drake Law School on December 21, 1976, and they moved to Sioux City where Jeff worked at the Corbett Anderson and Corbett Law firm. He and Jan moved into a trailer on the farm that he had raised hogs on in 1968. After two years of trailer life, Jeff and Jan built a log home themselves, which was where he lived until his death.

As destiny would have it, his love of dirt, and the cattle business, he accomplished the near impossible. It took 45 years of creativity, determination, blood, sweat and tears, and one roadblock after another, but he built a ranch, and a quality cow-calve operation. With deep fatherly pride, he was able to operate it with his son Will.

Jeff often spoke about the character-building attributes of having ranch raised kids, and always made sure, “They were well mounted.” In laymen terms, had a great horse.

His son William Benton Poulson was born December 3, 1977, and daughter Whitney Rae Poulson, November 26, 1983.  Never telling them what he wanted them to be, he intentionally led by example.  He was proud of their strong work ethics, resilience to adversity, leadership skills, and their inherited appreciation, and sense of stewardship for the land.

He practiced 30 years at the Corbett law firm, where he gained vast experience and helped a diverse array of clients. He always said, “Lawyers are professional problem solvers.” With his agricultural knowledge, the farm crisis of the 1980’s was a memorable time in his career.  The turmoil cost many farm families their vocations, lifestyles, and accumulated wealth. He made every effort to champion them and received Christmas cards for years from many of them showing huge appreciation for his work and guidance in their dark time of need.

He left Corbett in 2006, to partner with Bruce Thomas for four years.

Then on Nov. 13, 2010, he was honored to be appointed by Governor Culver to serve as a Judge in the Third Judicial District of Iowa. With 34 years as an attorney, having handled a wide variety of cases, he was well-suited as a judge, and as with everything, he gave it his all.

As a judge, he was instrumental in the formation and 2015 launch of the Woodbury County Veterans Treatment Court.  The first of its kind in Iowa, the special court is a diversionary program that helps military veterans get their lives in order rather than go to prison. He credited a team, including volunteers from the VA, current and former military veterans, and relationships with treatment facilities and volunteers from the police and sheriff’s departments, parole officers, all crucial for assisting in its success.

He was proud when the American Legion worked to get the flags from all branches of the military displayed behind the bench in his courtroom. When he called participants to approach the bench, he was amazed they immediately assumed their military bearing. He always figured out what branch they were in, where they served, their rank, and assignment. Without exception, every participant was amazed Jeff had not served in the military. In every exit interview upon graduation from Veteran’s Court, participants expressed great appreciation for the program, and many spouses told Jeff the Veteran’s Court saved their families. He passed the Veteran’s Court Baton to Judge Tod Deck, and to date 33 participants have graduated from the program.

Outside of the court room and ranching, Jeff was an avid fly fisherman. He and his 2 dear friends literally crossed the state of Wyoming diagonally from the survey marker on the Northeast corner of the state to the marker on the Southwest corner, fishing at every opportunity.  The three of them also participated in the Wyoming Cutt Slam.   A contest put on by the Wyoming Game and Fish where participants had to catch all Wyoming native cutthroat trout.  He proudly displayed his certificate of completion in his office.

A favorite pastime he spent over 50 years skiing, a love he helped nurture in his children and grandchildren. Whether football, rodeo, volleyball, track or dance, he was there for his children and grandchildren at every opportunity and loved sharing that he had the opportunity to ski with all his grandchildren including his grandson Griffin at the age of 3.

To his family and friends and many, many people in his work life, ranch life, client world and community, all would most certainly agree that Jeff lived and died well and was a role model of a good, true, and honest man.

He is survived by his wife Jan Poulson, his children, William Poulson of Hinton, IA and Whitney Schultze of Bozeman, MT; their spouses Allison Poulson of Hinton, IA;  Matt Schultze of Bozeman, MT; 3 grandchildren,  Hannah and Ella Poulson of Hinton, IA and Griffin Schultze of Bozeman, MT; a sister Sue Bowers and Spouse Wes Bowers of Sioux City, IA; sisters-in-law Ruth Benton of Chapel Hill, NC, Barb Lawyer and her spouse Bob Lawyer of Cheyenne, WY; nephews and nieces: Matt Bowers, Jessica Fahy, Seth Lawyer, Jake Bowers, Andra Wilkinson, and Natalie Brockmeyer.

 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you donate in his name to:

 Hospice of Siouxland

or:

Woodbury County Veteran’s Treatment Ct.

Woodbury County Court House

Judge Tod Deck

620 Douglas Street RM 210

Sioux City, IA 51101


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