John R. Schermerhorn, 86, of Newton died on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, at the Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines.
A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the First Christian Church in Newton. The family will greet friends from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, followed by a Masonic Service at the Wallace Family Funeral Home and Crematory. Memorials to American Legion Post 111 may be left at the funeral home. Memorials may also be mailed to the funeral home; please add Attn: Schermerhorn Family on the envelope.
John, the son of Arthur Orsen and Nina Mae (Wallace) Schermerhorn, was born on Jan. 13, 1927, in Newton. He grew up in Newton and California, graduating from Newton High School in 1944. John served his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was united in marriage with Kathleen R. “Kay” Good on June 29, 1949, in Des Moines. They moved to California in 1952.
John worked for the Department of Defense in charge of quality function for the space shuttle program and was involved with every space shuttle. He then worked as the Engineering and Quality Manager for Sargent Fletcher, working on military aircraft. In the late 1980s, he was a part owner of GNS Spices and introduced Habanero peppers to the United States. After moving back to Newton in 1990, he served as the Mayor from 1993-1995 and then worked as the Jasper County Emergency Management Coordinator, retiring in 2003. Following Kay’s death in 2001, John was married to Karen Criswell Cope.
John was a member of the American Legion Post 111, Newton Lodge #59 A.F. & A.M., Gebal Chapter #12, Royal Arch Masons, Malachi Council #55, Royal & Select Masters, Oriental Commandery #22, Knights Templar, Des Moines Scottish Rite Consistory, 32nd Degree Shriner, Golden Kiwanis, Last Man’s Club, 40 & 8, and the First Christian Church. He enjoyed politics and woodworking, but most importantly his family. He liked going to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren’s sporting events and activities.
Those left to honor Johns’ memory are his wife, Karen Schermerhorn of Newton; children, Deborah Schermerhorn of Boulder City, Nev., Martin (Lilly) Schermerhorn of Claremont, Calif., Aleta (Joseph) Palmiotto of Dell Rapids, S.D., and Jeffrey (Sandra) Schermerhorn of Henderson, Nev.; his step-sons, Scott and Corey Cope, both of Centerville; 12 grandchildren, Tracy, Peter, Aaron, Joshua, Janos, Erika, Matthew, Adam, John, Derek, Amanda and Kaci; three step-grandchildren, Hannah, Joe and Cash; 17 great-grandchildren; his siblings, Fred Schermerhorn, Lyndel Graham, Wally Schermerhorn, Roberta Brick and Nona Yard; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; first wife, Kathleen R. “Kay” in 2001; two brothers, Thomas and Robert Schermerhorn; and a sister, Lorra Burkett.