John was born May 23, 1944 in Fosston, Minn. to Camillus and Katherine (Keim) Killian. He grew up in Fosston, Little Swan, Forbes then to Zim, where he worked on the family farm and worked in the woods cutting pulp wood and Christmas trees. He graduated from Cherry High School in 1962. He graduated from Hibbing Area VoTech for auto mechanics in 1964. He completed further education in many types of welding and auto body repair.
John was employed by Farmington Auto from 1964 to 1966. He enlisted in the US Navy in 1966 and was stationed at Sand Point NAS in Seattle where he was a fireman. On Dec. 2, 1967, while in the Navy, he married the love of his life, Rita Carol Kapala. He was honorably discharged in 1969. He started with UPS in 1970 in Minneapolis and became an automotive manager in 1976 where he managed the UPS automotive departments in northern and central Minnesota. John left UPS in 1983 and went to work for American Trailer in Roseville where he was the shop foreman. From 1987 to 1999 John was the owner of John’s Welding and Hitch in Cambridge where he designed and built many trailers and projects, repaired just about everything and met countless friends. In 1999 the business was purchased by Bob Pankan and Sons Concrete and Masonry and moved to rural Isanti where he continued working, designing, building and repairing to the present day.
His many interests included John Deere tractors, NASCAR, fishing, designing and fixing things for his “boys” and most of all his love for his whole family.
He is survived by his wife Rita; three sons, Thomas (Laurie) of Superior, Wis., Scott (Cathy) of Ham Lake, Jeffrey (Stephanie) of Mounds View; six grandchildren, Danny, Gabriel, Nate, Jared, Zoey and Maya; five brothers, Gerald (Diana) of Iron, Minn., Douglas (Nancy) of Gilbert, Minn., Richard of Minneapolis, James (Marie) of Ferndale, Wash., Michael (Jane) of Eveleth; four sisters, Sheila (David) German of Grand Rapids, Bette (Lee) Linder of Evansville, Wis., Annella (Curt) Collier of Hibbing, Camille (Cevin) Childers of Bellevue, Omaha, Neb.; and by many other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Julie; and sister, Marie.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday, Sept. 19 at 11 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Isanti with Father James David Hahn as Celebrant. Fran Jacobson will serve as cantor and Leona Jacques will serve as organist. Pallbearers are Tom, Scott, Jeff Killian, Jim, Tim, Joe and Ron Pankan. Military Honors were provided by Isanti VFW Post 2735. Interment will be in Morningside Memorial Gardens in Coon Rapids. Arrangements were entrusted to Strike Funeral Home – Isanti Chapel.