John Wallace Granath, 92, of Danville, and formerly of Dassel, MN, passed away on August 8, 2017. John was born on October 6, 1924 to Gothfrid and Mabel Larsen Granath in Minneapolis. As a young boy, after his mother died and his father moved to find work during the heart of the Great Depression, John and his siblings were sent to a farm to be raised by their great aunts and uncles, the Boos, who spoke to them in both English and Swedish.
John graduated from Collinwood School, a one-room schoolhouse, and at 19 reported for basic training to join the efforts in World War II. He completed Army Air Corps training and fulfilled a dream of flying only to have it dashed after learning that he was needed for ground duty. In 1944, John joined the 78th Infantry Division, Company F, 2nd Battalion of the 311th Regiment and headed to England.
As the company radioman, John carried a forty-two pound radio on his back to communicate as they worked their way into Germany. In February of 1945 John and F Company were heading to Schmidt Germany during the Battle of the Bulge when they came under fire. Just as John gave the "hit the dirt" signal, he lost consciousness. Presumed dead by many, when John came to he was able drag himself to a shallow crater for protection and to assess his wounds. He was shot across the top of the head and in his hip by a machine gun on a Panzer tank, ending the war for him at only 21.
A year and a half and numerous hospitals later he was finally discharged and allowed to go back home. John received a Purple Heart and a bronze star with an oak cluster for his service and his 311th Regiment was awarded a Presidential Citation for their "outstanding performance of duty in action...". He would never walk without the aid of a cane and special shoes to even out his leg length, but that never slowed him down.
John went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1949 and returned to Dassel where, with a friend, he launched a business venture in the poultry industry. As the head of business and marketing at Storm Industries, Inc. John even got to return to one of his old loves - flying. He would often fly himself to out-of-state business meetings in his Tri Pacer plane.
The true love of his life, however, came in 1951 when he met and married his wife Mary Kay Berkner. The following year their daughter Lucia was born, their pride and joy. In 1967, John and family decided to start off on a new venture when he accepted a position in Indiana with Anderson Box Company. They moved to Danville and it became their new hometown. To finish out his career, John and Mary Kay moved to Ohio for a short stint but not before purchasing their retirement home in Danville - a 90 acre farm just west of town - where they promptly moved in 1987.
John's hobbies included forestry conservation, the bluebird society, and traveling with his wife and grandchildren across the U.S. and through Europe. He and Mary Kay were devoted members of the Danville Methodist Church. In 2006, his brother, Marvin, wrote a biography of his life and experiences in World War II, "Growing up and Going to War." To those who knew him, John will always be remembered as a true gentleman and a quiet hero who never stopped seeking to learn new things.
John was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Kay, daughter, Lucia, and brothers, Marvin and Orville. He is survived by his sister, Louis Lanto; son-in-law, Jeffrey O'Brien; grandchildren, Corie O'Brien (Bruce), John Andrew O'Brien (Nicole), and Mollie O'Brien Siebert (Charles); great-grandchildren, Nolan and Regan Little, Quinten and Jeffrey Vincent O'Brien, and Lucia Siebert; and numerous beloved nephews and nieces.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 12, 2017 in the Danville United Methodist Church with calling from 12:00 noon until the service time. Burial with full military honors will follow in Danville South Cemetery. Baker Funeral Home, Danville, is in charge of the arrangements. Online condolences may be made at www.bakerfuneralservice.com.
Published on August 11, 2017