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John Derk Krehbiel Sr.


John Derk Krehbiel Sr. is remembered by his children for his positive outlook, kindness, determination, story-telling, wood-working, music, charity and passion for learning. He was born July 9, 1923 to Oswald and Eva Krehbiel in Hutchinson, Kansas. He had two sisters, the late Florene Langenwalter (Richard) and Helen Borene (Morris).  John’s interest in wood-working began when his father bought him a lathe, at age 12, so he could make handles for the tools in the family’s hardware store. He joined the Army Air Force and served as one of the original hurricane chasers in World War II. John served in Guam in WWII as a meteorologist and turret gunner, the first of four B-24 crews that innovated an approach to hurricane reconnaissance. Subsequently based on Iwo Jima he earned several medals flying into waters occupied by the Japanese empire ultimately earning the “Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross”. While studying Meteorology for the military at the University of Chicago, he met Rita Margaret Whooley. They married December 5, 1945 and had four children: John Derk Krehbiel, Jr. (Carol), Mike Krehbiel (the late Carol), M. Beth Krehbiel (Robert Donovan), and Tom Krehbiel (Laura Griffith). Rita passed away in 1974. John married the late Sally Ann Hungerford in 1976. Sally had six children Ken (Noreen) Hungerford, the late Richard (Judy), the late Steven (Beverly), Karen Willis (Bill), Gary, and Sue Clemens. John and Sally enjoyed many of their retirement years together in Marco Island, Florida where he taught meteorology and navigation to the local Power Squadron until he turned 90. John immensely enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He held a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin. For over 40 years he served in a variety of leadership roles in manufacturing and engineering. John was an avid hunter and fishermen. He loved music, swing music was his favorite; he played his French horn in college and professionally. Devoted father and spiritual man he helped build the IHM Parish in Grand Rapids, was a leader in the St. Vincent De Paul Society, Holy Name Society and almost every Sunday was the lector. On June 1, 2018 John died surrounded by his children. The family welcomes those who knew John to join them at O’Brien-Gerst Chapel, 3980 Cascade Rd. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 on Monday, June 4. A visitation will be held 9:30-11:00 a.m., with a service immediately following 11:00 a.m. Rev. Msgr. Ernest P. Schneider officiating. Interment Woodlawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers and memorials, any gifts may be sent to one of John’s favorite charities: Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, 425 Pleasant St., SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

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4 Responses

  1. Deepest sympathy and prayers for all on your loss. May God wrap you all in his loving arms and give you comfort from family and friends in the days ahead. God bless.

  2. John will always be remembered as a wonderful friend and neighbor for the 18 years he lived next door to us in Marco Island. We have so so many memories with him. We always missed him when he left for the summer and awaited his return in the fall. We loved him very much, our hearts go out to his family and friends up north.

  3. I was so blessed to know this true gentleman.

    May the road rise up to meet you,
    May the wind be always at your back,
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    And the rains fall soft upon your fields,
    And until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the palm of his hand John!

    Love – Stephen S. Dooley

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