John Leo Fern, age 75 of River Falls, WI, passed away March 20, 2022 at the Mala Strana Nursing Home in New Prague, MN following a recent diagnosis of Grade 4 glioblastoma cancer (aggressive cancerous brain tumor). John was born on January 27, 1947 in Melrose, MN to Alfred and Loretta (Knapp) Fern. He grew up in Melrose and graduated from Melrose High School. He was united in marriage to Vicki Heldt, and the couple was blessed with two children, Elizabeth and Steven. The family made their home in River Falls, and John was employed as a factory metal worker for Vollrath/Kolpak, and later spent the last 20 years of his career with Norlake. John was a hard worker and did his best to provide for his family while teaching his children, by example, to be selfless and giving. Tragedy struck the Fern family in 1999 with Steven’s death, at the age of 17, in an automobile accident.
John enjoyed spending time with his family and cherished the memories he made with his grandchildren. He loved to go fishing and spent time hunting deer and bear. With permission from the county, he hunted the gophers that made holes in the ground behind his house, and relished in adding numbers to his gopher tally. Halloween was John’s favorite holiday, and he loved giving trick-or-treaters handfuls of candy. He was fond of trips to the casino with his friend Jeff and playing slot machines.
John will remain in the hearts of his daughter, Beth (Shawn) Williams of Owatonna; his wife Vicki Fern of Balsam Lake; grandchildren, Makenzie Michael, Layla, Olivia and Lane Vierling; step-grandchildren, Davion, Damahntae, Da’Mario, Dajah Nae, and Dalilah Williams; siblings, Thomas (Jo) Fern, Gerald Fern, Alfred Fern Jr., James Fern, and Jeannette (Paul) Fisher; mother-in-law, Patricia Heldt; siblings-in-law, Jeanne (Peder) Pedersen, Joan Heldt, Donald (Pam) Heldt; and many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. He is preceded in death by his son, Steven; his parents, Alfred and Loretta Fern; siblings, Edward Fern, Ralph (Mary Jane) Fern, David (Sylvia) Fern, Ronald Fern; sister-in-law, Stella Fern; and father-in-law, Walter Heldt.
A gathering of family and friends to celebrate the life of John Fern will be held from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Friday, March 25, 2022 at the O’Connell Family Funeral Home, 520 S. 11th St., Hudson, WI. Interment at Lakeview Cemetery in Lakeland, MN. Memorials preferred.