John Arthur Dahlgren

Published 3:46 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2018

John Arthur Dahlgren passed peacefully from this world to his eternal home on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, with his loving wife of 60 years at his side.

The celebration of John’s life will be Saturday, Feb. 17, at Columbus United Methodist Church, 76 North Peak St., Columbus. The celebration service will begin at 2 p.m. 

John was born in Rockford, Illinois, on March 8, 1932, to a hard-working farming couple, Signe and Arthur Dahlgren. Art and Signe were examples of steadfast love, commitment, hard work and wisdom that flowed from their fear of the Lord.

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John grew up working on the farm from early morning to late nights, while going to school or working other jobs. Hard work, serving others and integrity were ideals John lived out all the days of his life. 

In 1955, John joined the U.S. Army, later serving in the Army Reserves and the Air National Guard, and was honorably discharged in 1966.  He enjoyed working for the base chaplain, as his driver, and was invited to go to Germany as his personal aide, but chose to stay at home with the love of his life, who he eventually married.

John had an amazing mind, able to work our complex real-world problems or recall dates and the smallest details of various events, beginning with stories in his crib at age 4.

His mind served him well as a progressive, yet conservative thinker. He was leader of the young Republican Party of Jefferson County, Wisconsin, which he helped found. John was an avid politician, working on local, state and U.S. senate and presidential campaigns. He often had his family in tow, stuffing mailboxes and talking to anyone who would listen. 

This carried over into his “normal life,” as John “never met a stranger,” loving Jesus by loving the one in front of him.

Amazingly, John met three standing U.S. presidents: Herbert Hoover as a young child at railroad campaign stop; Harry S. Truman, while serving in the Army, who told John, “If anyone here gives you any gruff, you call me and old Harry will straighten them out!”; and later, President Gerald Ford.

John settled down in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, with his wife, building a piece of paradise on the end of his father’s farm to raise his family. John worked for more than 30 years at Dean Foods as a production supervisor, shipping manager and maintenance manager, earning many accolades for his service. 

John and MarJean could be found at nearly every event their children were involved in, from choir to wrestling tournaments. No matter the score or outcome, dad always had an encouraging word, and a special treat, which usually ended with a stop at McDonald’s.  Remember when that was a treat? It was!

John mentored many young men during his working career, pushing them to be better individuals, citizens and leaders in the community.  Many a troubled youth took John’s advice, knowing they had just been loved and inspired to be something they knew not.  This is part of the legacy of John Dahlgren that lives on today.

John and MarJean retired to Columbus in 1999. You could find John helping a neighbor; working at the Red Cross, locally and nationally; at Habitat for Humanity; the American Legion; the Republican Party; Polk County; or at his landscape business, named after one of his granddaughters, “Beauty by the Beast,” in a tribute to her love of the Disney characters Belle and Beasty.

John was a lover of God, of all people, all animals, nature and life, and passed that love onto his children.  He was often seen speaking to birds, deer and many other wild animals.  He is one of the few men who kept a horse as a pet, but such was his love for animals.

John is survived by his wife MarJean; younger brother, Curtis; daughter, Gina and her husband, David James, their children, Amanda, Katie, Jesse and David, and great-granddaughter, Sorcha Neihm; son, Scott and his wife, Lenia, and their children, Natalia, Daniela and Sofia.

We, the family, are especially grateful to the staff of Ridge Rest Assisted Living center and the hospice staff for their gentle, loving and unending care. Each and every one of you are amazing gifts from God. Thank you!

John’s service to Jesus, his family and to others was paramount.  He strove to fulfill his personal mission each day: “To help whomever I can, wherever I am!  To do so with humility in the name of Jesus Christ!”

Well done good and faithful servant, welcome into the joy of your Master!

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to: Hospice of Rutherfordton County, 374 Hudlow Road, Forest City, NC 28043.

Condolences may be left at

Petty Funeral Home & Crematory, Landrum, South Carolina