John Moilanen

LA CRESCENT, Minn.— John Moilanen, 68, of La Crescent passed through life into death on Friday, Jan. 6, 2012, after a two year battle with cancer.

He was born to Reino and Jenny (Hill) Moilanen on Oct. 29, 1943, in Hibbing, Minn. In 1964, he married his high school sweetheart, Merridee Hendricks, in Hibbing. John is survived by Merridee; two sons, Douglas (Sara Brindley) of Burnsville, Minn., and Matthew of Prairie du Sac, Wis.; one grandson, Jacob; and one brother, Arne, of Lander, Wyo. He is also survived by his sisters-in-law, Christine (Bruce) Savall of Sparta and Phyllis (Kenneth) Borgenheimer of Mountain View, Ark.; one brother-in-law, Clinton Hendricks, of Brooklyn Center, Minn.; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and his father and mother-in-law, Elmer and Laura Hendricks.

After working his way through Hibbing Junior College and the University of Minnesota, John spent most of his working life at Trane Company as a mechanical engineer. He was honored with several patents while working for Trane. He decided to retire early so he could enjoy hunting and fishing more fully. He spent many days below lock and dam #7 fishing for walleyes and saugers and many found their way into Merridee’s frying pan. He and Matt spent some time deer and waterfowl hunting and he really enjoyed having Matt and his young friends haul him around to the duck blinds.

John enjoyed woodworking as time allowed before retirement, but after retirement he became a master carpenter, making beautiful furniture of his own design for his family. They will cherish those pieces.

John always had projects to work on until illness forced him to stop. In the 1970s and 80s, he farmed and remodeled his 120 year old house. He spent time with his tractor making roads in the woods and cutting wood to make more projects and also to burn in the stove. In 2005, he helped Doug remodel his home.

John was a long-time member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in La Crescent, serving as council president in 1979. During retirement, he volunteered his handyman skills at church as a “fix-it fellow“. He was also a life member of the Gopher State Sportsman’s Club and was honored as Gopher of the Year in 2010 for his volunteer efforts.

He will be fondly remembered and missed by his loving family and his devoted black lab, Sulo.

John’s life will be celebrated at a memorial service at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, La Crescent. The Rev. Barbara Kopperud and the Rev. Michael Woods will officiate. Friends may call from 2:30 p.m. until services Thursday at the church. Schumacher-Kish Funeral Home of La Crosse is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be submitted at