John H. Walker Jr., 87, of Winona, passed away peacefully at home on November 4, 2019.
Johnny was born on February 16, 1932, the third and youngest son of John Harvey Walker and Annie Marie (King) Walker in Hayti, Mo.
During his youth, he developed a love of the outdoors and especially a deep love of the Mississippi River that flowed past his hometown in Southeast Missouri. As a youth, he spent many hours on or near the river and many of his adventures were very much akin to those of the legendary Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. The grandchildren never tired of hearing the stories of his youthful experiences and lifestyle.
All of his lifetime, his family called him “Junior” and family members still call him Uncle Junior.
Johnny enlisted in the Army at a young age and was stationed in Japan when the Korean conflict began. His unit was one of the first military units to be sent into combat in Korea. Johnny’s military service was from January 4, 1949, to June 12, 1952, and he received the Korean War Service Medal, Korean War Commemorative Pin, and Cold War Recognition Certificate for serving during the period of September 2, 1945, to December 26, 1991.
While in the military, he married Beverly J. Koeth in February 1952. They had three children, Dianna, John H. III (Skipper), and Jayne. They were later divorced.
October 8, 1973, Johnny and Arlene (Koeth) Thrift were united in marriage. In October 2018, they celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary with family and numerous friends at the Elks Club.
This love of the Mississippi River was renewed when as a young man he moved and relocated in Southeast Minnesota and the Winona area. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and spending time with family and friends on the river. For more than 30 years, he especially enjoyed spending time at their cabin on Winnebago Island. During travels, he and Arlene visited every state except those in the New England area.
Johnny often stated to Arlene how fortunate they both were to have the love and support of two families to share and create many great memories.
Johnny was employed as an electrician working primarily in construction, and was an I.B.E.W. union member of La Crosse and Eau Claire, Wisconsin Chapters. Prior to retirement in 1995, he worked in electrical maintenance for 15 years at the G. Heileman Brewery of La Crosse, Wis.
Johnny is survived by his wife, Arlene; daughters, Dianna (Gary) Sande, Blaine, Minn., and Jayne Feind, Rochester, Minn.; also, Dennis Thrift, White Plains, Md., Maureen (Dan) Salmon, Longmont, Colo., Karen Thrift, Wabasha, Minn., Sandra Johnson, Winona, Minn., and Christine Flak, Wabasha, Minn.; 16 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law, Beverly and Susanne; and many nieces and nephews.
Johnny was preceded in death by his parents; son, John H. Walker III; brothers, James Francis and wife Virginia Walker, and Edgar and wife Lorene Walker; daughter-in-law, Beverly L. Thrift; and nephews, Bobbi, James Eugene and Michael Walker.
He was a member of Masonic Lodge 18; Elks Lodge 237; lifetime member of VFW Post 1287 and American Legion Post 9 of Winona.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to a charity of your choice.
A celebration of Johnny’s life will be held at the Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home on Sunday, February 16, 2020, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Interment with military rites will be held at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Winona at a later date with family members.
Online condolences or memories may be left for Johnny’s family at www.watkowski-mulyck.com.