John Wesley Young Sr., of Fish Creek, Wisconsin, died comfortably at home in the early morning hours of Wednesday, July 6, 2022. He was 84.
Born on September 25, 1937, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, John spent his early years in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, and later in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, where his family ran a large, shoreside guest house. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1955, a few years after the end of the Korean War, and served for three years of active duty, mainly in the Pacific region, followed by five years of reserve duty. John was proud of his military service and often spoke of his time in the Philippines to family and friends.
After his discharge from active duty, John settled in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, where his family had since moved, and began what would become a long career in sales. He came by it naturally. The son of a traveling salesman, John started off selling radio advertising time all over the eastern seaboard. It was in Florida, all in a span of just 28 days, that he met, courted, and wed Sharen Anderson, a native of Door County, Wisconsin, who became his wife of 59 years.
Supporting a young and growing family, John began selling appliances for General Electric, working for two years in national sales out of GE headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, while receiving management training. He was then transferred to the major appliance division in the Cleveland, Ohio, area, where he was responsible for the accounts of many of the region’s largest housing developers. During this time, while fostering relationships with his clients and serving on the board of the Lutheran Housing Authority in Cleveland, John cultivated an enduring interest in real estate development and home building.
John did eventually leave his sales career behind, though, in a leap of faith when he was called to serve as executive director of a large and dynamic suburban church outside Cleveland, where he was an elder and his family were also highly engaged members of the growing congregation. The church soon started its own elementary school, expanding incrementally to grades K–12, and acquired property for further expansion.
After 10 years of managing church operations, John made another leap, this time moving to Door County, a place he had grown to love dearly over many years of family vacations to Sharen’s family homestead in Juddville. During one of those visits, in 1990, he serendipitously noticed a classified ad for a job with a diversified local enterprise that could make use of many aspects of his wide-ranging experience. Within a few months, John had joined the team at Hedeen International in Sturgeon Bay, where he managed real estate development at Little Sweden and for other projects, oversaw sales at The Rushes and at Little Sweden resorts, and helped market inventions to toy manufacturers. John found those last 15 years of work to be the most interesting and stimulating of his career.
In retirement, John eagerly contributed more time and energy to many projects at Community Church of Fish Creek, such as overseeing construction of a new parsonage, and for the Town of Gibraltar. He continued to attend local town board meetings and served for eight years on the Door County Board of Adjustment.
In the last months of his life, John received invaluable encouragement and love from his many longtime friends, both from his church home of more than 30 years and from the broader community. He was grateful for the faithfulness of those who visited regularly and appreciated the spontaneity of those who called or stopped by when they thought of him. As his stamina waned, he always tried to rise to the occasion for the sense of exhilaration he got from his visitors and callers.
John was preceded in death by his parents, Samuel and Florence “Flossie” (née Dietrich) Young; his parents-in-law, Floyd and Gladys (née Fairchild) Anderson; and a grandson, Beren Mattingly.
He is survived by his wife, Sharen Young (née Anderson); his son, John Young Jr. of Fish Creek, Wisconsin; his daughter, Jocelyn (Jacob) Stanton of Des Moines, Iowa; and two grandchildren, August MacFarland of Salida, Colorado, and Anya Young of Des Moines, Iowa.
A memorial service and celebration of life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, July 22, 2022, at Community Church of Fish Creek, 9420 Cottage Row, Fish Creek, WI 54212. Officiant: Pastor Daniel Bowman. Visitation will be held at the church prior to the service, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Interment at Blossomberg Cemetery inside Peninsula State Park will be private at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, any donations in John’s name may be directed to Community Church of Fish Creek, PO Box 70, Fish Creek, WI 54212 (online giving at ccfishcreek.org) or to a charity of the donor’s choice.
John’s family thanks the wonderful staff of Unity Hospice for their supportive care and welcome guidance over the last several months.
Casperson Funeral Home of Sister Bay is assisting the Young family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of John may be shared with his family through his tribute page at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com.
Community Church of Fish Creek
PO Box 70, Fish Creek WI 54212