June 2, 1929– Feb.18, 2012
Arnie’s wonderful life ended peacefully on Feb. 18, 2012, with his wife, De De, at his side. Also surrounding him in prayer and spirit were his loving children, grandchildren and step-children.
Arnie spoke often and fondly of his childhood years on 24th Street in Milwaukee and the many characters who he met along the way, most of whom became lifelong friends and will miss him dearly. The "21st Street Gang" included his brother Eddie John, Billy Shope, Gene Feld, Al Beyer, Bob Peilmeier, John Dressel, Jim Raymond, the Armour brothers (Phil and Bob), Percy White, Paul Green and Chase LaFrance, among others.
Arnie’s best friend, Emil Lukasch, became close with the family and was lovingly referred to as "Uncle Emil." Their long-standing friendship began the first day of shop class at North Division High School.
When Arnie wasn’t among friends at the private clubhouse they started, where no girls were allowed except to deliver hamburgers, he was tending to his racing pigeons and participating in athletics. In 1948, wearing the number "1," Arnie quarterbacked the Milwaukee Boosters to a City Championship. A proud grandfather, he later passed on his love of sports to his grandsons the way his father, Wiffy, a gifted athlete in his own right, did for him.
As a young man, Arnie and the gang gathered at familiar watering holes like Hammers Tap, Mr. Frank’s Bar and later Joe & Elaine’s. In 1951, the family bought a cottage on Fox Lake where they continued their friendships. For generations, friends would gather there to share stories and make new memories. This would be one of his and De De’s favorite places to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Arnie was a dedicated body builder for most of his life. A long- standing member of the Deutscher Athletic Club in Milwaukee, Arnie competed alongside his dear friends, Joe Stanke, Karl Buehrer, Russ Griswold, Rudi and Alfreda Keidl, George Kuchler, Mary Ann and George Williams, Vito Vitale and Wayne Yanke, many of whom stayed close to Arnie until the end.
In 1960, Arnie bought Mid-City Plastering Co., which he ran for more than 45 years, continuing in the trade that he learned as a boy from his father. He was nicknamed "the master plasterer" by the many who admired his work ethic and his craft, including fellow "mud slingers," Eddie Fugger, his brother Eddie John, his brother-in-law Dick Petitjean, Jim Raymond, his son William John, his son-in-law Carl Scholz, and family friend Dale Kassens.
In the ’70s, Arnie built homes with his partner and good friend, Tom Moran. Arnie’s life’s work, with hawk and trowel, is on display in many buildings and residences, including his proudest achievement, the family home that he lovingly referred to as "the big house."
He and his De De spent their later years traveling. Their favorite places included Mackinaw Island and South Dakota. Arnie and De De also enjoyed trips to Gettysburg and other Civil War sites, where Arnie could embrace his love of history.
Arnie was proud of his German heritage, and celebrated it often with his dear friends at places like Stemmler’s, the Bavarian Inn for Oktoberfest and Germanfest, which always included a toast and rousing chorus of "Ein Prosit."
He loved polkas, fish frys and special dinners prepared by his sister, Janet; a drive in his Caddy convertible, or in the parades that preceded Pommerntag and Lionsfest picnics in Thiensville, the 4th of July parade in Freistadt; and spending time in Michigan visiting De De’s grandchildren and family.
Arnie had a wonderful sense of humor and was fond of silly jokes. His favorite "dirty" joke started with the line, "a pig fell in the mud."
Every occasion was marked by a story or two of days gone by, of "remembrances," of friends and special relationships, and then, there was laughter.
Arnie is survived by the ones he loved and others who left us too
soon: his dear wife, Diane (De De) John; his step-children, Lynn and Paul Vencato, Michael and Donna Sikes; and grandchildren, Karri and Shane Sikes; his children, Linda Winters and grandchildren, Brandon and T. J. Winters; Cindy and Carol Scholz and grandson, Bryan Scholz; Susan and Joe Buchel and grandchildren, Christopher and Megan Buchel; William John and Kathy and grandson, Charlie DeMars; Steven and Ann John and grandson, Erick John; sister, Janet Petitjean; the late Richard Petitjean; brother, the late Edward John; Dawn John; father, the late William (Wiffy) John; and mother, the late Helen (Stelzner) John. Fondly remembered by Karl (Opa) Scholz. Also survived by many other dear nieces, nephews and friends.
Arnie was loved by so many in his lifetime. He will be truly missed.
For Arnie, "Auf Wiedersehen" meant never say good-bye.
The family would like to thank Nancy and Kathy for the years of home health care they provided. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the special "Angels" at Horizon Hospice, Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Mequon, who helped to keep him comfortable to the end.
Funeral visitation will be held at Zwaska Funeral Home, 4900 W.
Bradley Road, Milwaukee, Saturday, Feb. 25, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a memorial service at 4 p.m.
Zwaska Funeral Home is serving the family. For online condolences, please visitwww.zwaskafuneral.com.