John Papke

Memorial services for John Papke of Duluth, formerly of Morris, Minnesota, will be held Saturday, August 26, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at First Lutheran Church in Morris, with Reverend Chris Richards officiating.  Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church.  Burial will be at Summit Cemetery, Morris, Minnesota.

John Arthur Papke, was born August 19, 1959 about 15 minutes ahead of his twin brother James, to Andrew and Dolores (Thordson) Papke. John lived the first years of his life in Pine River, MN where he was baptized into the Christian faith as a member of a Lutheran Church. John moved with his family to Morris, MN in 1962 where he attended the Morris Public School system, excelling in his special education classes and making lifelong friends. After completing his education, John spent many wonderful years working for and engaging in activities at the Stevens County Developmental Achievement Center (DAC). At the DAC, John took great joy in the many dances, birthday parties, and social events held with his friends and the staff. John lived with his parents until 2004, when he moved into a Divine House assisted-living residence with two lifelong friends. Due to declining health, John retired from the DAC and in 2020 he moved to Willmar, MN. He later moved to Glenoaks Senior Living Center, New London, MN and finally, in March of 2022, he moved to Aftenro Board and Care, Duluth, MN. John died on August 3, 2023 at Aftenro due to complications of diabetes, just a few weeks shy of his 64th birthday.

​John was passionate about what he enjoyed. Among those passions, John was a lifelong puppeteer. As a young boy, through his middle years and into the last weeks of his life, John used his imagination to create his own stories and songs to express himself. When you met John he would very often immediately introduce you to one of his many puppets he had carefully arranged on his bed. A passion of his youth, John throughly enjoyed watching professional wrestling on TV. After a match he would single handedly take on all three of his much larger brothers, defeating each in turn and, sometimes, all three at once. John cherished the greeting cards he’d received, making a point to review each one with visitors and taking them to the DAC to share with staff and friends. Like so many of us, John had a particular love for certain foods. He grew up especially fond of hotdogs (ketchup, no mustard, please) and a creamy peanut butter sandwich with half a banana. To the very last he relished his mashed potatoes and ice cream. John also loved to be a part of family gatherings making it a point of greeting everyone with a hug!  That said, he was particularly fond of his own birthday, which he often reminded us of throughout the year.

​For those of us, family and friends, who knew John it was obvious that what made him such a wonderfully special and genuine person was the openness to each of us and the love he shared with so many. John could make meaningful connections wherever he went. His family, having experienced this throughout his life, heard this echoed over and over. We are forever grateful to God for having given John to us for these last 64 years and anticipate our joyous reunion with him in the life to come.

John is survived by his siblings: Mark (Linnea) Papke-Larson of Duluth, Dave Papke of Litchfield, Jim (Joann) Papke of Clearbrook and Mary (Dan) Holman of Blackduck; brother-in-law: Tim Kampmeier of Chokio; nieces and nephews: Emily (Emily Powers) Papke-Larson of Bemidji, Andrew (Lauren) Papke-Larson of Duluth, Alicia (Kevin) Willcox of Durham England, Melissa Hoffman of Litchfield, Anna (Mike) Lish of Litchfield, Nelson (Umbriel Post) Papke of Arnhem, Netherlands, Eliza (Jimmie Busch) of Cascade, MT, Iver Papke of St. Cloud, Hannah (Peter Heeringa) Holman of Bloomington, Davad Holman serving in the NAVY, Jordan (Hilary) Kampmeier of Chokio, Reed (Jenna) Kampmeier of Chokio, and Mac (Sydney) Kampmeier of Chokio.

John was preceded in death by his parents Andrew and Dolores Papke, his sister Linda Kampmeier and his nephew Matthew Millerbrand.

Donations may be made to the Stevens County DAC (Developmental Achievement Center) which provided such a wonderful working and social environment throughout most of John’s life. 

Pedersen Funeral Home in Morris is in care of the arrangements for John. To send condolences to the family, please visit