John Paul Gille, 63, passed away peacefully surrounded by his loved ones in La Crosse, Wis., on May 11.

John was born in Hazel Green, Wis., to parents Edmund and Edith (Klaas) on February 27, 1960. After graduating from Belmont High School in 1978, he pursued his love of farming and agriculture at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and graduated with a degree in agriculture. Two years later, he obtained his master’s in professional development, which would lead him to a lifetime of mentorship and service. On May 23, 1987, he married Juli Gruhot, and they settled in Elk Point, S.D., where they raised their daughters, Lydia and Danielle. For 30 years, John was an active member of the Knights of Columbus and 4-H and was a very faithful parishioner of the Catholic church. Youth development and cultivating healthy relationships through one-to-one mentoring were very important to John. He established the Clay-Union Foundation, which paired youth ages 6-18 with dedicated adults to promote friendship along with making sure every child’s potential was ignited. People who know John could see him fundraising for the Foundation at yearly bike rides, half-marathons, and pancake breakfasts and building lasting friendships in the Elk Point and surrounding communities. John was an incredible man, who cared for everyone and would be happy to receive a call from new friends and old, picking up the thread of conversation like no time had passed. John loved being a father and moved with Juli to Winona to be closer to their children in December 2022.

John is preceded in death by his parents, Edmund and Edith, and his best friend, Craig Anthony. He is survived in the hearts of those on earth: his wife of 35 years, Juli, children, Lydia (Ethan) Eddy and Danielle, and his siblings, Beth and Bob.

A Mass of Christian Burial for immediate family will be held on Monday, May 22, 2023, at 11 a.m. at Crucifixion Catholic Church in La Crescent, Minn., with Reverend John Evans II officiating. A time for visitation and a rosary service will take place for one hour prior to mass at the church. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the national youth-mentoring organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters. The Dickinson Family Funeral Home of La Crosse is assisting the family with arrangements. Please visit to share online condolences.