This gentle giant, John William Himmelberger was born December 19, 1918, in Bellfountaine, Logan County OH to Ora Guy and Neva Himmelburger.
He had three brothers and one sister: Robert, Eleanor, Max and David.
John’s mother died when David was born and David died about five months later.
John’s father married Carey Watson, who was a very good mother to the four remaining children.
When John was very small, he almost drowned and was afraid of water ever since. John started school in a little one-room schoolhouse that held grades one through eight.
When he was in fourth grade his family moved from the farm into town making it easier for him to get to school. His brother Robert worked at a hotel and stayed there most of the time, so John carried a heavy load home.
John’s sister Eleanor had rheumatic fever and had to spend a lot of time in bed. John did a lot of caring for her.
As a boy John also worked to help with the expenses at home.
His family had big gardens and a small farm and plenty of yard work.
Often using his father’s team, John plowed the family garden and in addition had the responsibility to care for his neighbors’ gardens and their yard work as well. John put up and hauled hay, helped with the oats, grain and helped at threshing time.
He also took care of the horses, cows, pigs and chickens. John had a newspaper route for the Columbus Dispatch delivering papers everyday from the time he was in fourth grade until the age of 17.
He would get up early, do his chores, walk the mile to school (returning for lunch) and then after school deliver papers. In order to get all his work done, John would run his paper route and became a very fast runner.
John was introduced to scouting through his attendance to the Presbyterian Church, which he attended with his Grandma Bushong.
He enjoyed attending the scout meeting and was surprised when other scouts could not run the mile as fast as he could.
John left home at the age of 17 and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
He was stationed in Castle Dale, UT with the CCC. He was there for three years building roads, water dams, loading corrals and water troughs and developing springs. The last year he worked as a camp mechanic.
He met Elnora Hardy at a movie theater near Price, UT. They had a year’s courtship and were married April 1, 1939 in Huntington, UT.
Their marriage was later solemnized in the Manti, Utah Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
John worked for the Pontiac dealership in Price. His son Philip was born to them. They then moved back to Bellfountaine and two more sons were born, Dwight and Keith.
Because John had three little boys, he was not drafted until 1942. He served in the 15th Air Force at Shepherd Field in Texas as a gunner. He was sent to Italy.
On the way back from Italy, John saved the plane in which was bringing them home. In order to get some rest the bomber pilot allowed a pursuit pilot to fly the four-genuine bomber plane.
John was the flying engineer and had responsibility of watching the instruments in flight. John noticed that the climb instrument was going too high and the RPM gauges on the motors were dropping below where they should.
The engine sputtered – John knew that if it died they would go into a tailspin, crash and lose the lives of all 15 men. John reached for the four throttles and pulled them hard automatically giving the engine more fuel.
John stated that he remembered he was so nervous that his hands would slip off the throttles they were sweating so much.
John pulled the plane to the right position and was requested by the bomber pilot to remain as the copilot.
After the war, John went back toe the Pontiac dealership in Price. He and Nora’s only daughter Nancy was born.
John worked in Price for about a year and a half and then went to work for Redd’s Motors moving with them when the company relocated in Monticello, in 1951. John worked for Redd’s for 43 years, retiring in February of 1994.
In Monticello, besides working at Redds Motor, John was fire chief for many years, a Sheriff’s deputy, a 4-H leader, her helped organize the San Juan County ‘Jeep Patrol’ (Search and Rescue).
He was a faithful and dedicated member of the Lions Club and was their main pancake turner. He was film projectionist for the Little Theatre for many years and also drove ambulance.
John was the Jeep Patrol commander for two years. They had many experiences; a café blowing up, a military plane exploding in mid-air, many hours searching for lost hikers.
John practically built a wrecker for Redd’s and traveled all over San Juan County aiding people in distress and picking up wrecked cars.
Nora died on July 31, 1986. After three years of being a widower, John and Maxine were married on September 2, 1989 in the Jordan River Temple.
Maxine’s granddaughter tells of a time she was John and Maxine’s unofficial chaperone on their time spent ‘courting’. Together the three of them would watch the Lawrence Welk Show on Saturday nights.
Their union brought six stepchildren, Sheree, Larry, Patti, Janean, Tauna and Robyn. John and Maxine enjoyed traveling the county, planning huge family reunions and other events, loved visiting important moments in their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren lives.
John was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been baptized in 1956 in Monticello. His testimony was strong from his baptism and especially the last few months of his life.
John was a constant dependable person in the lives of those he touched showing all how to be a good person. He loved his birds, buddy break, chocolate raisins, strawberry ice cream, jeopardy and old cowboy music.
Being of service was John’s purpose in life. John knew this kept him young, healthy and wise. He was a strong dependable man, with a calm grace and the reassurance of always doing the right thing.
The John and Maxine Himmelberger family would like to express gratitude and love to those who visited, sent cards, letters, flowers, brought in custard, tapioca pudding or strawberry shakes while he was at the Four Corners Care Center and to all those nurses who were so cute and tender with him.
Thank you for your love, support, concern, and love for this dear man, whom we dearly loved. Sheree (Jim) Walstad, Larry (Tu) Lyman, Patti Husted, Janean (Ralph) Tullis, Tauna (Dave) Larson, Robyn (Patti) Lyman and our families.