John Nels Geisler

November 25, 1929 ~ April 8, 2013

John Nels Geisler, age 83, most recently of Valley Springs, died Monday, April 8, 2013 at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD.

Memorial services will be held at 10:30 AM, Saturday, April 27, 2013, at Messiah Lutheran Church, Murdo, followed by inurnment at the Murdo Cemetery and lunch at Messiah Lutheran.

He was born in Pasadena, CA, November 25, 1929 to Arthur John “Dick” Geisler and Vivian Christine (Petersen) Geisler. He lived with his parents and younger siblings Roma and David in Bell, CA, where A.J. ran a feed store. During his childhood in Bell, John began a life-long love of movies at the three local theaters where admission cost a dime.

In February 1942, the metal rationing of WWII led to the closing of the store in Bell, which had transitioned into selling the latest modern appliances. Leaving the land of sun and palm trees, the family moved to a farm in Blunt, SD during a blizzard. In 1945 the Geisler family moved to Murdo, to operate the John Deere and Chevrolet dealerships; the first of many businesses.

For his high school education, John boarded at Northwestern Lutheran Academy in Mobridge, SD. His college education was interrupted when he served his country as a cryptographer in Korea, in the Army 1903rd Engineer/Aviation Battalion.

After his honorable discharge from the Army in 1953, John collected antique cars from across the Midwest. His father told him, ‘John, you have to do something with those cars’ and in 1954 John, his father, Dick, and brother Dave, opened the Pioneer Auto Museum with 25 cars on display in a single building.

John eventually received his bachelor’s degree from Concordia College in Seward, NE. He held many jobs during his life time: service station attendant, copper mine employee, elementary school teacher, social worker, Pinkerton security guard, postal worker, pilot car driver and antique dealer. He most enjoyed his time in the Army and the years he spent exploring the Midwest on trips to locate antique cars for the museum.

John married Betty (Fortier) Queen November 9, 1965 and gained a daughter, Cathie. Daughter Johanna was born in November 1966. After attending graduate school at the University of Minnesota, John, Betty, and the two girls moved to Murdo to be near family and the Pioneer Auto Museum.

For many years, the family traveled around the United States. John was always on the lookout for antique cars and collectibles to add to the Pioneer Auto collection. In 1985 John and Betty returned to Murdo to live. John loved all sorts of entertainment and public exhibitions, attending canvas-tent circuses and state fairs and concerts. He loved a good meal; any road trip would be planned around restaurants that could be visited along the way. John had a companion beagle by his side for the last 35 years, the most recent being named Martin Luther.

In 2002 John and Betty moved to Sioux Falls and later Valley Springs, SD to be near their daughters and grandsons, and to have access to advanced medical care. Both John and Betty faced a number of health issues in the last decade. Starting in 2009, John went through several rounds of treatment for thyroid cancer. After a brief, acute illness in late December 2012, John entered the hospital and then the hospice program at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Sioux Falls. His family is grateful for the excellent care he received there. He passed away the morning of Monday, April 8, 2013.

John had a strong, but quiet, lifetime relationship with his Lord and Savior. He was a member of Messiah Lutheran Church in Murdo and attended First Lutheran in Valley Springs.

John is survived by his wife of 47 years, Betty (Fortier) Geisler, Garretson; two daughters, Cathie (Johnnie) Littles of Sioux Falls, Johanna (Mark Dykstra) Geisler, of Valley Springs; three grandsons Corwin and Rune Dykstra of Valley Springs, and Lee Littles of Sioux Falls, sister Roma Bunch of Irvine, CA; brother David A. (Leila) Geisler of Murdo,; nieces Vivian (Jeff) Sonder, Patty (Donald) Tyus, Jennifer (Bryan) Kaiser, Lisa (Larry) Williams, and nephews Eric (Janet) Staudenbaur, and David M. (Ann) Geisler.

John is preceded in death by his parents Arthur John “Dick” Geisler and Vivian Christine (Petersen) Geisler.

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