John B. Espenmiller, 76, passed peacefully under the trees of Kabekona Lake Sunday, October 22, 2023. He was born July 31, 1948 to Ben and Karin (Olsson) Espenmiller in Geneva, Illinois. He was proud to be the son of an immigrant, and would share the story of his mother arriving from Öland, Sweden to the Port of New York in 1923 any chance he had. The youngest of 3 siblings, John grew up in Lombard, IL and graduated from Glenbard East High School in 1966. After high school, he attended Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL for two years before transferring to Iowa State University in Ames, IA in the fall of 1968. John graduated from ISU in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in Horticultural and an emphasis in Turfgrass Management.
While at Iowa State, John met the love of his life, Mary Lynn Strong and the two were married June 19, 1971 in Logan, Iowa. The couple made their first home in Hampshire, IL where Mary Lynn could attend Northern Illinois to finish her education degree while John started his career at Stonehenge Golf Club in Barrington, IL. Stonehenge was under construction when he was hired to establish the turf necessary for a golf course. The process of growing in a golf course requires long hours, attention to detail and a knack for outsmarting the weather. John credited this experience with teaching him the value of hard work, perseverance and order. These are skills that helped him become successful in his future endeavors.
In 1972, John and Mary Lynn moved to Logan, IA where John joined Strong Insurance Agency and worked alongside Mary Lynn’s father and brother-in-law. He also established himself as a trusted investment advisor and remained dedicated to his customers until his retirement in 2019. After retirement, John & Mary Lynn resided in Oskaloosa, IA, but spent most of their days at the family cabin on Kabekona Lake in Laporte, Minnesota. It is there that John’s true legacy will be left. In 1980, John and Mary Lynn purchased 92 feet of lakefront and set out on a dream to have a place for their family to escape. For 43 years, John poured his heart and soul into constructing their cabin, caring for the trees, and protecting the lake. His greatest joy came from sharing his piece of Kabekona with family and friends.
John and Mary Lynn raised their children, Sandy, Jake, Laura and Katie, in Logan. They were loyal stewards to their community for 47 years. John served as president of the school board and athletics booster club for Logan-Magnolia Community Schools for many years. He was also the long-time president of the Harrison County Conservation Board. One of his favorite and most significant community service projects was establishing the Lo-Ma outdoor classroom. He spent over 20 years tending to the trees and prairie surrounding the school, which allowed all of his skills and passions to harmonize. John was a devoted member of St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Logan and was a man of unshakable faith and impeccable character. “Do the right thing” was his standard advice.
Left to carry on his legacy are his wife of 52 years, Mary Lynn (Espenmiller), and his children, Sandy Espenmiller, of Indianola, Iowa; Jake (Jessica) Espenmiller of Winterset, Iowa; Laura (David) North, of Oskaloosa, Iowa; and Katie (Nik) Moser of Fort Dodge, Iowa. His greatest blessings and best friends include his 15 grandchildren: Maggie, Lizzie and Spencer Espenmiller-McGraw; J.D., Anna, Ben, Adam and Cecelia Espenmiller; Charlie, Aiden, Jake and Tommy North; and Sam, Lou and Mack Moser. He is also survived by his brother, Allen (Barbara) Espenmiller of Moraga, CA and sister, Karin (Don) Meador of Liberty Township, OH; sister-in-law Judy Dinkel of Logan, IA, brother-in-law Kelly (Joni) Strong, of Murfreesboro, TN, brother-in-law Larry (Janis) Strong of Indianola, IA; and many beloved nieces & nephews.
John was welcomed in heaven by his father and mother, Ben & Karin Espenmiller; his father & mother-in law, Keith and Mary Strong; his brothers-in-law Craig Strong and Alvin Dinkel; and dear friends who became family, David E. North Sr., and Ron & Julie Johannsen.
Mass of the Christian Burial will be held Saturday, October 28, 2023, at 11 a.m. in the St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Logan, Iowa with Reverends Mike Berner and Jim Kirby officiating along with Mr. Luke Mohan, Seminarian. Burial will be in the Logan Cemetery in Logan, Iowa. Visitation will begin Friday after 1 pm. In the St. Anne’s Church in Logan and the family will be at the church from 3-7 p.m. Friday to greet friends and relatives. Memorials may be made to Kabekona Lake Association.