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Welcome to the memorial page for

John Edward Furnell

January 6, 1942 ~ April 4, 2017 (age 75)

It was easy to love John Furnell. For 75 years, and with ways all his own, he brought love, laughter and kindness to those around him. A friend of many, John lived his life with integrity and honor. Ever giving and helpful to those around him, John worked hard, and with faith as his guide, he lived accordingly. Above all, his greatest joy was found in the family he loved. A special man in the hearts of those he leaves behind, John will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.

By 1942, World War II had captured the hearts of many as news of the day included the perils of war and the sacrifices of battle. In the U.S., young men not in uniform were often found dancing the jitterbug with their saddle-shoed sweethearts, or taking in a picture show. Women began entering the work force in droves, and rationing was commonplace on the home front. Michigan factories went from making refrigerators, automobiles and vacuum cleaners to tank engines, aircraft parts and arsenal. It was during this time of change when Carl Edward and Dorothy Lee (McGinnis) Furnell welcomed the birth of their son, John Edward, born on January 6, 1942.

Although born in Sedalia, Missouri, John and his family moved to Mesa, Arizona when he was nine. To support his large family, John’s father worked for the Salt River Project in Arizona, yet he began his working career in construction and power line maintenance before moving on to meter reading and customer service. He also owned a gas station, and for a time he served as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff. John’s mother was a busy homemaker, remaining at home to look after John and his eight siblings, Dorothy Jean, Glen Herbert, George Robert, Patricia Ann (Who was stillborn), Clarence David, Debra Marie, and twins, Janine Dee and Janice Lee (Who passed away as a baby). Needless to say, the Furnell household was always bustling with activity.

John’s childhood was typical of his generation. As a kid he liked watching the Howdy Doody Show and the Lone Ranger, and in school he liked art class, but disliked arithmetic. Sunday dinners in the Furnell home were especially loved by John as they gathered as a family. John and his siblings had their share of household chores, and from a young age he learned a good work ethic. Like many siblings, John experienced sibling rivalry. In the fifth grade, his younger sister, Jean used to run up behind him and hit him on the head with a book. One time when she did this, as she turned around to run away, a tree "jumped out in front of her!"

John and his friends often went out in the desert to spend time in the fort they would build in the gully where the Mesquite and Palo Verde trees provided shade. When the rainy season came and washed their fort away, they always had fun rebuilding it, making it bigger and better. Throughout his childhood, some of the activities John was fond of included riding his bike in the desert, playing hide and go seek, and kick the can at dusk. He also liked playing board games, working on puzzles and playing cowboys and Indians. While living in Arizona and spending time in the desert, John often encountered snakes and scorpions, neither of which was he fond of.

At the age of 13, John acquired a paper route which kept him busy. In school he especially enjoyed woodshop where he made a lamp he continued to use for years to come. In high school, John actually raised white rats. During the winters he’d put them in his shirt and they’d crawl up onto his neck and sleep in the collar of his shirt to stay warm. And quite often he’d take them out at lunch to scare the girls! When his younger siblings, Clarence and Debra were born, John was a teenager. He was always there to help his mother with the laundry and take care of the babies. A typical teen, John enjoyed taking in the church dances and he was into music. His favorite singing groups and bands included The Glen Miller Orchestra, The Four Lads, The Ames Brothers, and the Kingston Trio. One of his favorite songs by far was, "Catch a Falling Star" by Perry Como. During his teen years, John also worked helping his dad at his gas station.

John went on to graduate from high school and completed some college classes before joining the U.S Air Force in August of 1961. He completed his basic training in San Antonio, Texas at Lackland AFB and then went to Shepard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas for nine months. While in the service, John worked in the missile silos at Walker AFB in Roswell, New Mexico for an additional 19 months. He was an Electric Power Production Technician, and for two weeks he spent time at VanDenburg AFB for advanced missile training. With these specialized skills, John spent a year at a remote radar station in North Central Alaska. In addition, he did 13 months at McCord AFB in Tacoma, Washington before doing a 2-3 month tour at Noah Bay, Washington while stationed at McCord. John was honorably discharged in May of 1966. He often recalled and loved to share stories about the big grizzly bears in Alaska and how it remained daylight around the clock.

Love came to play a large role in John’s life when he met his future wife, Sandra Kay Stevens. During this time, John and a friend decided to move to Indiana to attend truck driving school while several people at church told Sandy about "the new guy" she needed to meet. Three strikes and nearly out, Sandy didn't like his name, she hated mechanics, and she didn't like mustaches. It didn’t look very good for John either when he pulled into the church parking lot with the sand dune buggy he had built back in Arizona. Yet as they were introduced at church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Sandy shook John’s hand and all that went away because she knew in that moment he would be the one she would marry. On December 27, 1973, the two happily shared loving vows of marriage at the Latter-Day Saints Temple in Mesa, Arizona. For 27 years, John and Sandy shared a deep, abiding love until she sadly passed away in 2001.

The newlyweds began their new life together and before long they began a family of their own when they were blessed with two children, Rebecca Susan and Joshua Edward. A blessing indeed, John counted the day Rebecca was born as one of his greatest days because Sandy was told she couldn’t have children. Yet three and a half years later, their “miracle baby,” Rebecca came along. When their other miracle, Joshua was born, Sandy nearly died giving birth to him. A dedicated family man, family was very important to John. To support his family, John worked for International Harvester when he moved to Indiana. After he married Sandy, he hired on at CSX Railroad where he worked for 27 years.

John and Sandy had a little farm outside of Auburn on a little over an acre. They raised goats, chickens, ducks, and rabbits. The kids used the rabbits for 4H. John even took the rabbits all around town doing demonstrations and classes at libraries and schools. In so doing, he became known to many as, "The Bunny Man." Each year, John and Sandy planted a very large garden and with the fruits of their labor they canned and preserved much of it. John also made a nice herb garden in the backyard outside the kitchen that he’d use to cook with. He also dehydrated and preserved the herbs, sharing it with many. A good cook, John was always sharing herbs, recipes, and plant starts with those he knew. He was famous for his carrot cake, chocolate zucchini cake, and his "Best In Show" banana bread. As a member of the Cooking Club of America, he had quite a collection of recipes.

John was very involved in the DeKalb County Fair and for ten years he would be in the barns with the kids while they were in 4H as Sandy ran the culinary department. Following Sandy’s death, he took over the culinary department, running it for the next ten years. He also served on the County Fair Board. An active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, John served as High Priest Group Secretary from 2006 until his passing.

When grandchildren came along, spending time with them became some of the greatest days for John. In fact, when his first granddaughter, Emily was born, John had a badge/button made with her picture in it and he wore it proudly wherever he went. He loved to take his grandkids on dates and spend time with them. Emily loved going to The Brown House, a local eatery in Auburn. They enjoyed getting an ice cream with a cherry on top. Meghan looked forward to a special treat and playing with the kitties at Grandpa's house. As for Brigham, he loved going to grandpa's house and getting "grandpa juice", the special juice bottles and boxes he bought just for the grandkids. Although he wasn’t a big sports fan, John loved to read. He wasn't a big movie-goer, but one time the entire family went to see "Home Alone" in the movie theater. John brought a book to read while everyone laughed and laughed at the movie. Other things he enjoyed in his free time included crossword puzzles, word searches, card and board games, and puzzles. Many times he would get the crossword from the evening paper and do it at dinner with the family or a board game (Parcheesi, in particular) would be in the middle of the table and everyone would take their turn while eating.

It was a joy to be in John’s company. He was a very positive person, and he absolutely loved to laugh and share funny stories. John had a collection of funny and inspiring phrases, anecdotes and jokes. Many times he would pull over and write down a saying he saw on a church sign and share it with others. John will most certainly be remembered for his bib overalls. He had his "work bibs" and his "dress bibs." Many will remember his decorative bolo ties he wore to church and the green St. Patrick's Day suit he wore every year. John worked hard and enjoyed life. He had a positive outlook on things and even when he was going through tough times, he was always "fine." John loved people and brightening their day. Many will remember and miss his yearly Birthday Phone Call. Dearly loved and admired, John will be deeply remembered.

John Edward Furnell, 75, of Auburn, died Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne. He is survived by: a son, Joshua E. Furnell of Auburn, IN; daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca S. and Brock Fruth of Fort Wayne, IN; brothers, Glenn H. Furnell of MO, George R. Furnell and Clarence D. Furnell, both of AZ; sisters, Dorothy J. Rohan of UT, Debra M. Gillespe of MO, and Janine D. Granlee of AZ; two granddaughters, Emily K. Fruth and Meghan K. Fruth; and grandson, Brigham B. Fruth. John was preceded in death by his wife, Sandra Furnell in 2001, and his parents, Carl and Dorothy Furnell.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, April 10, 2017 with visitation one hour prior at Pinnington Funeral & Cremation Services, 502 N. Main Street, Auburn. Burial will be in Fairfield Cemetery, Corunna. Visitation will also be held Sunday, April 9, 2017 from 2-6 p.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints Mission Fund, or to the family to provide their parents with a monument at the cemetery.


 Service Information

Visitation
Sunday
April 9, 2017

2:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Pinnington Funeral & Cremation Servies
502 N. Main Street
Auburn, IN 46706

Visitation
Monday
April 10, 2017

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Pinnington Funeral & Cremation Servies
502 N. Main Street
Auburn, IN 46706

Funeral Service
Monday
April 10, 2017

11:00 AM
Pinnington Funeral & Cremation Servies
502 N. Main Street
Auburn, IN 46706


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