The first member of many generations of his family to practice law in Minnesota, Jesse Van Valkenburg died on October 27, 1949, in Minneapolis. In an eloquent eulogy delivered at memorial proceedings of the Hennepin County Bar Association the following year, Daniel F. Foley traced his life from his arrival in Minnesota at age three months to his death eighty years later. It was a life that coincided with the growth and development of Minnesota, one that "spanned the era from the ox car to the aeroplane, from the stagecoach to the radio and television." Van Valkenburg, he recalled, was the consummate counselor:
"His predominant characteristic was his untiring, never-ceasing industry, combined with the courtesy, frankness and a directness that gave you instant confidence. In the many years of our acquaintance and friendship, I think he never had an idle moment. With kindness and consideration he could be strict, direct and forceful, as I sometimes had occasion to know. Short of stature, one look into his face told you that here, indeed, was driving energy and an active mind. . . .
"He left a high mark in his professional career. The community, as well as the particular clients, depended on him for leadership and disinterested advice. Adherent and opponent alike accepted his word without question. His ideals of the law, even in the midst of a trial, were for the improvement of the common lot. We who knew him best will always remember him as a lawyer of high purpose, industry, kindness and fidelity to a cause."