John M. Stahl, a corn and soybean farmer in west Freeman S.D. and loving husband, father and grandfather, died on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 at Oakview Terrace nursing home. He was 91.
After retirement, Johnny and his wife Deloris enjoyed living in Freeman.
Johnny was born on Nov. 6, 1927, the sixth of 10 children, on a farm near Freeman to Mike Stahl and Katie Gross. He attended a local one-room schoolhouse. He was baptized upon his confession of faith by his uncle Peter J. Stahl and became a member of Hutterdorf Church. When that congregation closed, he joined Hutterthal Mennonite Church. He married Deloris Hofer on Aug. 10, 1952.
Shortly after their marriage, he refused induction into the Army during the Korean War because, as a Christian, he would not participate in war. He was arrested, charged with a felony, interrogated and jailed. Ultimately, he performed alternative 1-W service at St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver, Colo., where their first child, Jackie, was born.
Another life-defining episode happened during Johnny’s teenage years. As he and his younger brother Melvin were seeking shade under a horse-drawn wagon during threshing season, the horses suddenly lurched forward. Melvin was caught in the spoked wheel and died in Johnny’s arms.
He was a good husband and father who loved his family dearly. Even though he did not complete high school, it was important to him that all of his children and grandchildren obtain higher education. He generously supported their education, travel, music lessons and other interests.
Along with farming, he enjoyed buying and selling farm machinery. He loved meeting people and had a deep curiosity in hearing their life stories. He was a gifted storyteller with a great sense of humor. He saw the mystery, sacredness and paradox of life.
Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Deloris; daughter Jackie Skibine (Alex Skibine), Salt Lake City, Utah; daughter Marilyn Stahl (Dirk Giseburt), Mercer Island, Wash.; son John David Stahl (Darsi St. Louis), Bainbridge Island, Wash.; seven grandchildren: Alexandre “Sasha” Skibine and Nathalie Skibine of Salt Lake City, Annelise Giseburt of Hiroshima, Japan, and Peter Giseburt, Cameron Stahl, Nick Stahl and Andrew Stahl, all in the Seattle, Wash. area; sister Mary Stahl and brother Jacob Stahl, both of Freeman.
A celebration of life was held Monday, Dec. 10 at the Hutterthal Mennonite Church, with Pastor Jack Scandrett officiating. Interment was in the Hutterthal Mennonite Church Cemetery, with his grandchildren serving as pallbearers.