John Elmer Wiens
December 13, 1939 – October 4, 2019
John Elmer Wiens, son of Rev. Henry and Marie Wall Wiens, was born on December 13, 1939 in Glasgow, Montana at the local hospital. At the time, his parents were doing childrens' ministry outreach with the American Sunday School Union in nearby Wheeler, MT. His dad supported the family by also working on the gigantic Fort Peck Dam Project. He had one brother, William “Billy” who had been adopted in 1936. In 1941 the family moved to Jansen, Nebraska where his parents were involved in church ministry directed toward young adults. In December of that year another baby joined the family; her name was Carol.
John was around 4 years old when his family made the move to St. Paul, Minnesota where his dad attended St Paul Bible Institute, graduating in 1946. Following graduation, the Wienses spent the summer in Dallas, Oregon with relatives and welcomed another boy, Harold, into the family. Shortly after Harold was born, a move to Lustre, Montana was made as their father became the director of what was later called Lustre Bible Academy. John's mother told the story of his spiritual sensitivity during those early years in Montana. He asked her the question, “What does Jesus do with all the hearts?” She explained to him what it meant to receive Jesus into his heart after which John said he wanted to do that for himself. In the Lustre Community, John, along with his older brother Bill, sister Carol and brother Harold grew up, attending local one-room country schools. Both Bill and John also attended and graduated from Lustre Bible Academy. In 1951 John became the proud big brother of the final member of the family, Henry. John always had a soft spot in his heart for his little brother and that continued throughout his lifetime. After ten years in Montana, the family moved to Stuartburn, Manitoba, Canada where their dad pastored a church. John attended high school for one year there and then moved back to Lustre, Montana in order to graduate from high school with his Montana friends.
After high school graduation, John attended business school in Minneapolis. He then secured a job with International Milling (later called International Multifoods Corporation). He worked as a Logistics Manager for over 40 years. His job and home was in Minneapolis all of his career except for about a year with the same company in Kansas City, Mo. John married his sweetheart, Lota Mae Ellis, on June 21, 1961 in Kimball, Mn. He was a devoted husband and father to his three sons, Craig, Kevin and Keith.
Here is part of a letter that Craig wrote to his Grandma Wiens in his adulthood, describing happy memories: “I remember taking trips to Iron Mountain and Kimball as a child. So many good memories that are a part of my soul. In Plymouth there was a KOA Campground that we would go camping at every year. I still remember the lake we would go swimming in. And who could forget fishing trips on the Rainy Lake Houseboats? We had a lot of fun taking turns driving the boat. And there was nothing better than eating fresh fish! Duluth was another destination. I remember one year feeding bears at Lutsen. And the trip was not complete unless we drove up to Grand Marais and went to the “World's Best Donuts” and “Sven & Ole's.”
Attending their local church at Bloomington Church of Christ was a very important part of family life in their early years. John held many positions at that church, most of them being on the board. Being a pastor's son, he knew well how difficult it was to find people to do volunteer ministry work. More recently he and late wife, Lota, became members of Crosstown Covenant Church in South Minneapolis. Sadly, attending became impossible, due to health issues. He continued to enjoy regular visits from his pastor and other church friends.
John and Lota enjoyed entertaining and made it a big part of family life. Sometimes he invited friends over for a meal, forgetting to inform his wife! Relatives and friends were always welcome, some of them even knowing how to let themselves into the house should they arrive early and find no one home! He loved to grill outside and proudly served up the Thanksgiving turkey a number of times! Every summer John enjoyed planting vegetables and shared them with many friends and relatives.
After John retired, he enjoyed making music a bigger part of his life. He was a natural bass singer and joined a local men's group, the Silver Notes, who sang at many senior care facilities in the area. He took piano and violin lessons as well. He and Lota participated in the Bloomington Chorale for a few years. They also loved Southern Gospel Music and were known to travel many miles to attend concerts. When brother Henry joined The Chancellors Quartet, John and Lota always attended their concerts, if possible.
John, Lota, Craig & Kevin suffered the tragic loss of their youngest son and brother, Keith, to a brain tumor in 2007. Soon after, Lota became quite ill, and for 5 years, John devoted himself to caring for her, including taking her to kidney dialysis three times a week for 5 years. She passed into the loving arms of Jesus in 2011. In 2012 John was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. He moved into Presbyterian Homes in Bloomington, MN on December 26, 2014 to a Memory Care unit. John impressed workers with his cooperation; had a kind and gentle nature and was referred to as “a sweet man”.
During his time there, his son Kevin lovingly sat with his dad, caring for him in every way possible. Employees and residents considered Kevin a part of the “family” at PresHomes.
John took a sharp turn for the worse the last part of September and peacefully passed away on October 4th, 2019 into the loving arms of Jesus. He is survived by his two sons, Kevin of Bloomington, Mn; Craig of Wooster, Ohio; sister Carol Lundborg of West St Paul, Mn; brothers, Harold (Claudia) of Hugo, Mn; Henry (Lisa), of Pittsburgh, Pa; plus many nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of friends.
We thank the doctors, nurses, caregivers and chaplains at Presbyterian Homes who cared for John so lovingly. We are looking forward to being reunited with him and other loved ones in heaven as we worship our precious Lord and Savior together!
Funeral services will be held at Crosstown Covenant Church, 5539 29th Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55417 at 12:00 PM Monday, October 14 with a visitation at 11 AM and light refreshments following the service. A private burial will follow. Mortuary services handled by Washburn McReavy, washburn-mcreavy.com/m/obituaries/John-Wiens-3/… or 952-884-8145.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made in John’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association or Crosstown Covenant Church of Minneapolis.