John Adolph Hartzell, of Minnetonka, Minnesota, passed into His Lord’s presence on December 26, 2021, at the age of 93 years and four days. He is survived by Mary, his loving wife of 70 years and his children, Tim (Lynne), Janna (Don), Mary Ann (Jeff), Dawn (Steve), and Paul (Holly), 22 grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, his brother Donald, his sister Dorothy, his twin sister Joyce, and daughter Suzanne.
John was born on December 22, 1928 to Adolph and Ida Hartzell in Marshall, Minnesota. He grew up in Russell, Minnesota, and the Lord saved him while attending a Bible Camp in his early teens. At the age of 16, he began 77 years of ministry by becoming a licensed minister of the Gospel. After graduating from high school in 1944, he went on to study at Northwestern College and Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In 1951, John married Mary Miller, his partner in life and ministry for 70 years. In 1953, at the age of 25, he was ordained and started pastoring El Salem Baptist Church in Dresser, Wisconsin. After El Salem, God directed him into multiple different ministries and churches, including The Billy Graham Association, The Navigators, Midwest Challenge, Edina Baptist/Grace Church, Rebuilders Ministry, Normandale Baptist Church as Senior Pastor, and Pastor to the Seniors at First Baptist Church in Anoka.
John loved inventing and, while working at Billy Graham, he built a machine that was patented to open the flaps on envelopes. He also developed the first character name plaque, for what eventually became ARK Products. In his early days, he made a ventriloquist puppet named Wilbur, which had mechanical eyes, eyebrows, ears, mouth and arms. He entertained kids for many years with Wilbur. He always loved music and played a clarinet. He discovered that he could put a clarinet mouthpiece on just about anything to make music; including a screen door spring, the leg of a walker, and even vegetables!
After retiring in 2008, he and Mary spent time daily listening to the Bible and praying for each family member by name. He enjoyed entertaining people with his homemade instruments and constructed multiple jigsaw puzzles. He loved visits from family and friends, leading chapel services, and was a loyal friend to many. He will be missed by all who knew him.
A Memorial Service will be held at Fourth Baptist Church, 900 Forestview Lane North, Plymouth, Minnesota on Saturday, January 1, 2022. Visitation will be at 10 a.m., service at 11 a.m., with lunch to follow. The service will also be livestreamed at https://fourthbaptist.org/live-stream-archive/