Age 85, of Stillwater, MN, passed away peacefully on Friday, September 14th.
John was born on January 18, 1933, in Minneapolis, MN, and was the only child of Emil and Esther (Larson) Claessens. He graduated with honors (a common theme in his academic career) from Edison High School (1950), and the University of Minnesota where he completed both his undergraduate and Masters degrees. Following his enlistment in the United States Navy where he served in the Korean War, he worked as a hotel manager on the U of M campus, where he met his future wife and best friend, Marge. The two were married in August of 1958 and lived in White Bear Lake, MN before moving to Stillwater to raise their five children.
John was an elementary school educator for many years, involved first in teaching, and ultimately progressing to administrative roles within the White Bear School District. He was also very active in leadership roles with the Minnesota and National Education Associations. Upon retirement from his education career, he worked at 3M in their Corporate Security Department until April of 2000, when “JC” (as he was fondly referred to) officially retired due to health challenges. Not one to sit still for long, John volunteered at Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater for many years.
While completing his thesis on the campus of the University of Minnesota/Duluth, John and Marge began their life-long love affair with Lake Superior. They bought a second home in Knife River in 1976, and spent as much time as possible there with family and friends.
John loved all sports, especially his beloved Gophers, Twins and Vikings. He spent his free time watching various sports - live and on TV. He enjoyed movies, was an avid reader (two daily newspapers), loved to golf and was very engaged with his grandchildren’s sporting events and school activities. John was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend to many. He led a wonderfully full life, always with an easy smile and a remarkable - and memorable - sense of humor.
John will be missed by his children Mary Ness, Laura (Mike) Day, Claudia (Reenie) Claessens, Peter (Stacey) Claessens, Emilie (Theron) Claessens, and many loving grandchildren (13), nieces and a nephew. John was preceded in death by his loving wife, Margery; parents Emil and Esther Claessens; and two aunts, Patricia King and Elsie Larson.
The family would like to extend their sincere gratitude to the wonderful people at Boutwells Landing in Stillwater for their loving and respectful care of John over the last 18 months, and to the staff at Lakeview Hospice during his final days.
A gathering of family and friends will be held Wednesday, September 19th, 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. at BRADSHAW CELEBRATION OF LIFE CENTER, 2800 Curve Crest Boulevard (NW corner of Hwy 36 & Cty Rd 5), Stillwater. There will be a celebration of life service at 4:00P.M.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the International Wolf Center, 7100 Northland Circle North, Suite 205, Minneapolis, MN 55428 or Split Rock Lighthouse / MN Historical Society, 3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Road, Two Harbors, MN 55616.