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home : obituaries : obituaries
January 21, 2021

12/16/2020 3:34:00 PM
John William Henkels
b. June 14, 1930 d. Dec. 8, 2020

John was born on a farm near Heron Lake in Southwestern Minnesota to Herman Paul and Mary Agnes (Schaffer) Henkels. John and Marlene Mary Dehn were married in November 1960. They were blessed with three children: Catherine A. Walsh of St. Paul, MN; Sarah Henkels of Shoreview, MN; Tom (Klara) Henkels of San Diego, CA.

John attended Sacred Heart Catholic School before graduating from Heron Lake High School in the Class of 1948. Following high school, he studied at St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, receiving a B.A. in Business Administration.

Immediately upon college graduation, John was drafted for service in the U.S. Infantry, ordered first to Camp Stilton, Kentucky, next to Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN, and lastly to Camp Wood and to Sasebo Naval Base both situated on the Japanese island of Kyushu to provide financial services to troops that were heading to Korea with the Navy U.S. Seventh Fleet. John was immensely proud of his service to country. He earned the Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Good Conduct Medal. While in Japan, he traveled to ground zero of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He described it as, "totally decimated and tragic."

After completing duty at Sasebo Naval Base in Japan and arriving back in San Francisco, John was excited to start the next chapter, so after receiving his honorable discharge, he traveled back to Minnesota to find a job. He worked in management for 35 years with Mutual Service Insurance Company in St. Paul and finally traveled around the Pacific Northwest selling retirement plans to cooperatives in and around Spokane, WA. As a parent, he became active in managing his son's soccer team. And later, was instrumental in developing and organizing the North Suburban Soccer Association.

His career was followed by an active retirement in "cabin country" near Longville, MN. There, he bought 40 acres of lake-shore property on Town Line Lake on which he designed and built his dreamhouse; hiring his nephew Marty Henkels (and construction crew) to complete it. Working on the house and land was his passion. He was involved in the community; serving for years on the Town Line Lake Road Association. In his free time, he loved to fish and hunt. He made many friends in the Longville area; some who helped him immensely, especially in his later years.

John is survived by his wife, children, six grandchildren, Riana (Kyle) Damjanovich; Millie Walsh; Stephanie Dittel; Amy Walsh; Sarah Gruenwald; Alyssa Henkels; four great grandchildren, Vivian, George, Juliet, and Tanner John; and two siblings, Frank (Donna) Henkels of Bloomington, MN; Beatrice (George) Pluard of Munster, IN; and many nieces and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his parents, three brothers, Charles, Bernard, and Gregory Henkels; three sisters, Margaret Henkels, Bernadine Iverson, and Lucille Ferguson; and his great grandchild, Bianca Louise Damjanovich.

Burial with military honors will take place at the Minnesota State Veteran Cemetery at Camp Ripley located at 15550 MN-115, Little Falls, MN 56345. The burial service and separate celebration of life services will be announced in 2021.


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