John A. Smieja, age 73 of Burtrum, died unexpectedly and peacefully on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at his home in Burtrum, Minnesota.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, December 13 at St. John The Baptist Catholic Church in Swanville with Rev. Ronald Dockendorf officiating. Interment will be at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls following the lunch.
Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday at the church in Swanville. Parish prayers will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday evening at the church.
John Alfred Smieja was born June 26, 1940 at his childhood home near Royalton, Minnesota to Frank and Emily (Kroll) Smieja. He graduated from Royalton High School in 1958. John enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps May 22, 1959 and was released with an honorable discharge April 12, 1963. On June 18, 1966 he married Diane Arnold at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Royalton. He worked at S.J. Louis Company until his injury on May 1, 1990. At this time his life changed as he was confined to a wheelchair. This did not stop him; he chose to live a full and independent life. He was a member of St. Josephs Catholic Church in Grey Eagle.
John enjoyed hunting and being outdoors, and most of all, watching his grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow.
Survivors include his children, Tony (Diane) Smieja of Burtrum, Ken (Lynette) Smieja of Burtrum, Ann Marie (Scott) Denzer of DeGraff, and Julie (Mike) Lambrecht of Burtrum; nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; sisters and brothers, Valeria (Dave) Manders of Forest Lake, Irene Brown of Loveland, Colorado, Bernard (Annette) Smieja of Hackensack, Theodore (Darlene) Smieja of Fort Ripley, and Veronica Smieja of Loveland, Colorado; many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
John was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Diane Smieja on April 15, 2013; brother-in-law, John Brown; and niece/Godchild, Tina Poegel.
Serving as casket bearers will be Ken Smieja, Tony Smieja, Austin Smieja, Avery Smieja, Kristen Smieja, and Kaelin Smieja. Cross bearer will be Nathan Lambrecht and scripture bearer will be Kiley Smieja. Gift bearers will be Tyler Smieja and Shane Lambrecht. Honorary bearers will be Ashley Fladung, Kiley Smieja, Tyler Smieja, Nathan Lambrecht, Shane Lambrecht, Remmi Jensen, Cooper Jensen, Nickallis Fladung, Miley Fladung, and Nathan Fladung .
Arrangements were made with Patton-Schad Funeral & Cremation Services of Grey Eagle.