John R. Metcalf

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John Richard Metcalf entered this world at 11:03 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 1953, joyfully welcomed by Richard and Caryldine Zink Metcalf. He left this world too quickly and most unexpectedly on Monday evening, Aug. 15, breaking the hearts of his family, wife Jane, daughters Johanna Ferrara (Bert) and Molly Gill (Austin), grandchildren Court, Lily and Ryder Fricano and Cora and Olive Gill and brothers, sisters and cousins too.


John grew up in Gilbertville with parents and siblings, Joyce Kuehl (Greg), Beverly Slaughter (Joe), Jim, Tammy Fouts (Ron) and Richie (Rhonda). He loved fishing with his dad, stopping at Grandma Zink’s for cookies and learning the basics of trapping. Graduating school very happily in 1971, John set out to make a living. A few years of working different jobs led him to following his heart to professional trapping. Madman Metcalf was born! In the off season of trapping, John traveled the United States selling supplies and learning from the masters. He very much enjoyed this life, meeting folks, canoeing rivers to set traps, harvesting and selling furs. Winters were spent trapping in Tennessee with “his brother from another mother” Al Freeman, learning carpentry when rivers ran high pausing trapping. In his 30s, he took a job with Miller Fencing in Waterloo, allowing him to work in the off season and trap seasonally.


Then life changed. Friends Anne and John Franta introduced John to a woman from Elkader, a divorced teacher with two young girls. After many weekend jaunts to Elkader, he proposed a union, and Jane said yes. They married on May 24, 1991. John moved to northeast Iowa, which he quickly grew to love as much as he loved his new family. Working for Palas Fencing was perfect, being outside with guys who enjoyed hard work in beautiful places and trapping in the winters.


As his daughters grew up, John left fencing for the lumber yard in Elkader (many names, same place), providing regular money for the family. Trapping was worked around carpentry, taking days off, canoeing the river at nights and on weekends. He also loved to deer hunt with friends, first Bill Burke, then the Jansen family. John was home for high school events. He particularly enjoyed Jo and Molly’s music concerts but seldom missed any event or sport. A major John duty for the girls in high school were runs to a store for Skittles and hairspray! The family very much enjoyed traveling, Disneyworld, Natchez and camping to Washington, D.C. area to name a few. After the girls had better things to do with their time than travel with parents, John and Jane “adopted” nieces Allison and Madeline Wessel to see the country with them: Edisto Island, S.C., northern Michigan and other jaunts. Later, their brothers Jonathan and Donovan traveled with John and Jane to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  


John was proud of the girls’ achievements in college and had the joy of walking each of them down the aisle at their weddings. John and Jane continued to travel, loving visits to national parks. Then came grandchildren with John becoming their favorite person to play games, fish and go on Gator rides at the pond (thanks Alane and Roger Swales). There were favorite movies too, especially The Three Stooges, loved by all the kids, especially John! When campers were purchased, new adventures began: Black Hills with Jo’s family, state parks to fish and visit friends, taking the grans camping. John enjoyed fishing with Austin, checking out breweries with Molly and Austin and Florida trips with the Gill family. A new tradition of 10th birthday trips (thanks Greg and Angie) began with Court, beach time at the Outer Banks of North Carolina with a stop to trout fish on the way. Lily was next to the land of Lincoln with camper in tow. That was John’s last trip, but they will continue as he wanted to do a round two.


In 2008, John was the general contractor of an amazing remodel of 104 Reimer Street. At work, he moved to the rebar shop. John felt pride in running the shop, organized and dedicated to getting jobs out on time. Coworkers enjoyed working with John, especially his sense of humor!


John’s passing leaves a big hole in our hearts and minds. He was a teller of goofy jokes, fishing companion, an avid reader of all things trapping, hunting and fishing, traveler to beautiful places, willing helper for needed household repairs, good neighbor and friend, loving husband, parent and grandparent, and most of all a kind man. John was a blessing to our lives.

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