Obituary of John Eppeland
John Roy Eppeland of St. James, age 86, died at his home on October 29, 2021 with his family by his side. John was born in St. James, Minnesota on August 15, 1935 to Ruth Steel Hutchins and was later adopted by Karl Eppeland when he married Ruth. He was baptized by Rev. John Wilson at First Presbyterian Church, St. James, on June 9, 1940. His sponsors were his great- grandfathers, John D. Quane and John Steel. He was also confirmed by Rev. Wilson. On September 14, 1958 he was confirmed in the Lutheran faith by Rev. Emil F. Peterson. After graduating from St. James High School, John enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving for three years at the end of the Korean conflict. After his honorable discharge, he fulfilled a promise to his mother by graduating from Macalester College with a BA in physics. He did post-graduate work at the University of Minnesota in mechanical engineering. John married Myrna Kiecker at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on June 13, 1959. Four children were born to them over the next four years. They moved back to St. James in 1962 where John was employed by Scherr-Tumico. After a period of time, he accepted a position in engineering at Research Incorporated in Plymouth, MN. He especially liked working with infrared heat. His most noteworthy engineering achievement was a project for NASA in which he helped design the infrared ovens that baked the tiles that became the heat shield for the first space shuttle. His next engineering position was with BGK Finishing Systems in Blaine, MN. John holds several patents for his designs. John made the decision to leave engineering so he could be home during the week with his family. He started his own construction company in St. James and built many beautiful homes in the St. James area. He was creative and loved woodworking, making many keepsakes for his family until his health declined. John especially loved being with his family, enjoying many camping trips together. He looked forward to hunting and fishing with his son, his friends and their sons in his younger years. He loved gardening with Myrna, peeling all of the apples and snipping a million green beans. Every fall he bought hundreds of spring flower bulbs to plant for the community to enjoy. He was an avid reader and also loved a good polka. He savored his morning coffee time with his carpenter friends. Community involvement included helping restore the Opera House, teaching CPR with the American Red Cross and volunteering with the St. James Ambulance Service as an EMT. John was chosen St. James’ Person of the Year in 2002. He was a member of the American Legion Post 0033. He was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and had served as treasurer and a leader of the Lutheran Boy Pioneers. John Eppeland is survived by Myrna, his wife of 62 years; son Roy Eppeland (wife Connie); daughters Christine Pitcher (husband Dr. Steve); Yvonne (Vonnie) Gratz (husband Daniel); Marie Farley Christiansen (husband Dr. Tim); Grandchildren include Dr. Austin Pitcher (wife Dr. Valerie Au); Morgan Pitcher; Erik Gratz; Aaron Gratz and significant other Megan Anderson; Lauren Farley Moffett (husband Seth); Michaela Farley and Samuel Farley; step-grandchildren Hope, Ben, Nick, Jake and Hannah Christiansen; brother Thomas Eppeland (wife Debbie); sister Karla Viland (husband Michael). He is also survived by dear family friend, Meagan Moss and many nieces and nephews. John was preceded in death by his parents, Karl and Ruth Steel Eppeland, son-in-law Robert A. Farley and grandson Alex John Pitcher. A memorial service will be held Saturday, December 4 at 3:00 p.m. at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. No public visitation will be held due to CoVid concerns and the family kindly requests masks be worn at the service. Memorials may be directed to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Music Fund, St James Ambulance Department or Mayo Clinic Hospice.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Eppeland, please visit Tribute Store
Saturday, December 4, 2021
St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church, St. James
315 9th Street S.
Saint James, Minnesota, United States