John Atwood

March 19, 1941 — April 07, 2024

Service Details

John Gene Atwood was born to Bert & Bertha (Holte) Atwood in Sioux Falls, SD, on March 19, 1941. The youngest of 8 children, he was the family surprise baby. He loved his family and especially his brothers who fought in World War II. After losing his father when he was 10 years old, he was often causing trouble in school and the neighborhood. At 12 or 13 years old, the local police told Mrs. Atwood that Johnnie either joins the local boxing club after school or he must be off the streets by 6 p.m. every night. With all the braggadocio of a young tough boy, he quickly learned that real boxing was different than scrap fighting on the street. He earned boxing accolades through high school, though trouble – or fun as he’d call it – was always part of his life. In high school, he and his buddies took apart the principal’s car and reassembled it on top of the school roof. Thinking he would be caught for that prank or others he enlisted in the Navy.

John became a Naval Corpsman, earning the rank of Chief E7 by the time he retired from his 20-year career in 1979. Doc, as he was known, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, as well as many overseas deployments. His first deployment was in Kusaie (now Kosrae) and his favorite deployment was Palau, both in the South Pacific. In 1962 he was transferred from Guam to the Sioux Falls Reserve Center in South Dakota to help care for his dying mother.

In 1963, John was transferred to the Naval Hospital in Great Lakes, IL. He met and subsequently married Judy Bishop. Their first child, Cathryn, was born at Great Lakes in 1964, and they were soon transferred to Pensacola, FL. In early 1967 John was transferred from the carrier Roosevelt to ground duty in Vietnam after a 15-day leave. In late 1967 John received a telegram that he was the father of a child with “outdoor plumbing,” Michael. A few years later, Kimberly, joined the family.

John received the following awards in the course of his military service: National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, Navy Commendation Medal, Fifth Good Conduct Awarded 25 Feb 79, Combat Action Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Civil Action Medal Color with Palm, and Marksman/45 Pistol & M16 Rifle.

Upon retirement from the Navy in 1979, John began working customer service with Ruan Trucking. The marriage to Judy ended shortly thereafter, and it was a challenging time though he still had many friends from the military. John would go on to work 20 years with Ruan.

In 1988 a new employee, Patricia, was transferred to Customer Service. John was immediately smitten, and she thought he was cute and nice. On October 16, 1993, John and Pat married. With Pat, he gained three new daughters and two sons: Jamie, Bobbie, Linda, Travis, and Shelly. Pat also helped to introduce a new era of Christian faith in John’s life. At the age of 50, John gave his life to Christ, and Pat renewed her commitment to Him. For the next 30 plus years their shared faith and love became a major source of joy, energy, and abundance.

As members of Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Des Moines, Iowa, John and Pat were highly involved with van and prayer ministries, as well as serving on the board for a term. Wherever John went he was always teasing, making jokes, and doing things to help others. With Pat, John found a loving community through GTAG and formed many lifelong friendships that he considered family. They were incredibly generous with their time and money. The love John and Pat found in each other and in their church family healed many wounds.

On October 15, 2022, one day before their 29th wedding anniversary, Pat passed away from lung cancer.

Vietnam continued to impact John throughout his life due to exposure to Agent Orange, leaving him with lung and heart issues as well as Parkinson’s disease. Yet his humor and quick wit never left him. He was always finding something funny to say at a moments notice. In the last few months, the staff at Sunny View Care Center in Ankeny where he was living, came to love him for his engaging manner and humor.

John passed away at 83 years old on April 7, 2024 at Sunny View Care Center in Ankeny, Iowa. While John’s passing was not a surprise to many, it did come suddenly. For John, this suddenness was a mark of Grace given the challenges he was having with breathing. He can now breathe freely, is reunited with Pat, and is walking with Jesus. He is a very happy man.

John is survived by his children Cathyrn (George Jr) Carlier of Pinellas Park, FL; Michael (Shari) Atwood of Altoona, IA; Kimberly (Stephen) Atwood Lepse of Chicago, IL; Linda (Jim) Kline of New Haven, IN; and Michelle (Gary) Pennington of Springfield, OH; as well as many grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-grandchildren, great-nieces, and great-nephews.

The family will greet friends on Sunday, April 14, 2024, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church, 314 E. Army Post Road in Des Moines. Funeral services will be held on Monday, April 15, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. at the church. John will be laid to rest at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery along with Pat in Van Meter at a later time to be determined.

Memorials contributions may be directed Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church, with “Building fund” noted in the memo line, in loving memory of John.