Born in Independence, Iowa, June 26, 1934, he served honorably two tours in the United States Army (1953-58), and spent his career at Union Pacific Railroad. Quietly brilliant and joyfully athletic, he generously shared his talents as a born teacher and problem solver in everything from radio electronics to ping pong and ice skating, classical music to model airplanes, tennis, sailing, skiing, swimming and hiking. Wherever John was, there was a song, and he shared his rich tenor voice over decades in community theaters (Cheyenne, Salt Lake and Sundance), with the Utah Symphony Chorus, and in several Catholic parishes, including St. Thomas More.
John also had a talent for happiness, whether alone at his workbench or waking up in a tent with his beloved wife of 58 years, Dee Franzen Rowland. He was the proud and empowering father of five daughters: Audrey (Tim Graham), Amy (Brian Hutchinson), Angie (Rob Rice), Allison, and Amber (Hawk Mendenhall). He took great delight, too, in his five grandchildren: Hannah Luna, Tess Graham, Griffin Rowland, Maddie and Owain Rowland Rice; five stepgrandchildren; and one great-granddaughter, Malinalli Luna.
John is survived by his sisters and brothers: Jean Eck, Bill, Rita Kellerr, and Ben. He was preceded in death by sister, Diane Brimmer and brother, Joseph.
The celebration of John’s life was held on Saturday, Aug. 12 at Starks Funeral Parlor. The funeral Mass was held on Sunday, Aug. 13 at Saint Thomas More Parish.
The family appreciates the beautiful, skilled staff at the Salt Lake City VA Hospital. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in his name to the refugee resettlement program of Catholic Community Services, or HEAL Utah.