John Esala, 85John Norman Esala died March 5, 2012 at Douglas County Hospital at the age of 85.
John Norman Esala died March 5, 2012 at Douglas County Hospital at the age of 85.
He was born February 22, 1928 to John and Ruth (Olson) Esala in Virginia, Minnesota. The family then moved to Moe Township, Douglas County.
John went to grade school at District 45 in Moe Township. The school was located near to what is now Andes Tower Hills ski area. He finished his eighth grade at District 5. He graduated from Kensington High School in 1945. He played baseball for the high school and in later years for the Holmes City town team. He was confirmed in the Lutheran faith, using the Finnish language.
John farmed with his dad until entering the service, which was in 1951 when he was drafted into the Army. After basic training, he was transferred to the Signal Corps and went to signal school at Camp Gordon, Georgia. He spent several months in Korea, helping operate and maintain a signal relay station, which was located on a steep ridge right behind the front lines. He was awarded the Korea Service Medal with two bronze service stars and the United Nations Service Medal and the Meritorious Unit Commendation. He received an honorable discharge in 1953.
John graduated from the electronics program at Dunwoody Institute. He was hired by the FAA and spent many years in Alaska and Montana as an electronics technician. His job was to operate and maintain radar sites, which were often located on a mountain. These sites kept track of all air flight in the area. He retired in 1988 at Big Fork, Montana. In 1994, he moved to Brandon, Minnesota. He still owned his own home, although he spent time at the Evansville Care Campus and was currently living at Lake Country Assisted Living in Brandon.
He enjoyed hunting, fishing and trapping wherever he lived, be it in Minnesota, Montana or Alaska. He loved to raise geraniums and other flowers. Country-Western music, square dancing and playing pool were other hobbies of his.
He is survived by a sister, Kathryn Davis of Baudette; brothers, Kenneth (Jan) of Garfield, Charles (Jean) of Brandon, and David Esala of Baudette; and several nieces and nephews.
John was preceded in death by his parents, John and Ruth Esala; sister, Lucile Bahe; brother-in-law, Wallace Davis; and special friend, Lillian Haser.
A family graveside service is going to be held in the spring at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Moe Township.