John Louis Lutz, 93, died May 16, 2020, at his home in Meth-Wick Community, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
He leaves behind his beloved wife of 70 years Velma (Fox) Lutz; daughter, Sheri (Doug) Rayes; son, Terry (Sherri) Lutz; seven grandchildren: Joshua, Emily (Kyle) Rayes-Lord, Kevin and Timothy Rayes, Jonathan, Kristin and Leah Lutz, two step-grandchildren, Cory (Kristy) Slining, Stephani (Troy) Manning, four great-grandchildren, Gus, Cooper, Murphy, and Kendyl and two surviving brothers, Ronald and Glenn. His four sisters preceded him in death.
John was part of the Greatest Generation. Born and raised on a farm in Zearing, IA, he was the son of Louie and Pearl Lutz. Growing up during the depression, hard work and hard times became part of his DNA. In 1941, on a cold winter day, the family home burnt to the ground. Two months later his mother died. With no time to grieve or feel sorry for themselves, teenage John, his two little brothers and their Dad did not put down their plows. They worked the farm through that year so the family could survive. At 17, he joined the war effort by enlisting in the Navy.
Shortly after returning home from the Navy, he met the love of his life, Velma Fox. He swept her off her feet at Danceland where they danced the Butterfly. They married on June 4, 1950, moved to Cedar Rapids and built their first home. In 1953 he struck out on his own, opening Home Heating Co., a furnace and air conditioning business, which he operated for 30 years.
John was physically strong and mentally tough. With little help, except for an occasional assist from his son, John removed and installed furnaces and air-conditioners from basements, attics, and roofs all over Cedar Rapids. He became so popular with homeowners and builders he had to turn business away. In 1972 he single handedly built a small apartment building. He lovingly named the apartments, TerShe combining the names of his son and daughter.
John’s fierce love and protectiveness toward his children earned him the nickname, “The Bear” by some of the friends of his children. These friends knew not to mess with his children as they would have hell to pay if either of them was hurt. On the occasion his daughter was a victim of a crime, John, not satisfied with the justice system, communicated his concerns to the Governor and finally President Nixon.
John never lost his love for farming. Every spring he proudly planted a beautiful backyard garden with plenty of vegetables to share with family and neighbors. John played as hard as he worked. He was the life of every party with his singing and dancing. He set up camp at Lake Delhi for several summers where many weekends were spent water skiing and playing with family friends.
John and Velma traveled to Phoenix for 25 winters to spend time with their daughter and her children. They made many winter friends with whom they golfed, played pool, yard games and just plain enjoyed their free time. John was beloved by his winter friends. His sense of humor and endless supply of jokes carried through his entire life.
In 2011 John was treated to a trip to Washington D.C., courtesy of Honor Flight, an organization which gave tribute to WWII vets. On his return home he was greeted by hundreds of cheering and applauding people honoring his service, including his wife Velma, and grandchildren Kristin and Leah.
John was a strong-willed man. When John set his mind to do something (or not do something), there was no changing it!! In 1984, after smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for nearly 35 years, he quit cold turkey, when his daughter insisted he not smoke around his six-month-old grandson.
Though stubborn, John mellowed with age and became more open minded. He saw the world as a place that was becoming more complex and worked at understanding the changing times and being more accepting.
John was a beloved father, father-in-law and grandfather. He always had time for family. His visits were value added; in addition to lighting up the room with his sense of humor, he fixed everything needing repair. Although 60 years older than them, when with his grandchildren, he was a kid again.
John fiercely loved Velma to his last breath. Needing more care in his last few weeks, he was confined to the assisted living area at Meth-Wick. Due to the Coronavirus (Covid 19), which he did not have, visitors were not permitted nor was he allowed to leave the floor. He schemed on a couple days to have Velma stand by their car in the parking lot so he could wave at her from his 4th floor window. On his last days Velma was permitted to visit to say her last goodbyes.
John was a true representative of the Greatest Generation. He worked hard all his life and never complained. He constantly looked for ways to be of help to others. To the end he expressed amazement and gratitude for his wonderful life. His story is a shining example of a life well-lived for all his grandchildren.