John Arden was born in Winona, Minnesota. He was the second child of Roscoe and Gladys Stanberry. His older brother Bob and younger sister Betty Lou shared many adventures growing up, first in Winona and later Minneapolis. John loved scouting, trains, and music. As a youth, he delivered singing telegrams for Western Union, and once decided to visit his grandparents in Illinois, traveling first by bicycle and
then hopping a freight train for the rest of the journey (not sure if he cleared that with his parents and grandparents first, but he surely charmed away any angst that was caused by his travels). His mom says he made a violin from a cigar box and rubber bands, and often conducted the symphony consisting of Bob and Betty from the basement stairs, to the delight of their mom’s audience.
After graduating high school, he followed his brother Bob to San Diego where he hoped to be apprenticed to a tool and die master. But WWII intervened and John served in the army while Bob served in the air force. While in army special training in Kansas, he met the love of his life, Charlene Adams, who was helping to serve meals to the recruits. They were soon married and he got to see the birth of his son
David shortly before his unit was shipped to Europe.
John contracted pneumonia on the troop ship, and spent several weeks recovering in a French hospital before rejoining his 42nd Rainbow Division unit for the end of the war, just as the 42nd liberated the concentration camp at Dachau. The images of that experience profoundly affected him for the rest of his life. He was very proud of his service time and of those with whom he served.
John decided on returning home to pursue a college degree through the GI bill opportunity. He majored at Kansas State in animal husbandry, thinking he wanted to farm or keep a dairy. In his senior year, one of his professors convinced him to apply to the K-State Veterinary Medicine School. John always said he wanted to keep in school because K-State had such a great basketball team! And he did enjoy
becoming a veterinarian as an added benefit.
Charlene worked at the college bookstore during these years, and their second child Linda was born during those years. They lived in the married student housing known as Hilltop Courts, built from converted barracks. Charlene’s brother George and his family lived nearby during their college years, and the Adams family farm was a great refuge and support for them during these lean years. None of these young families had much in material possessions, but they had some great times of fellowship, sharing their hopes and dreams for the future, becoming friends for life.
After graduating K-State, John and Charlene and the kids packed into a car pulling a small trailer and headed to California in 1953. John spent a month or so preparing to take his exams to get his license to practice vet medicine, and afterwards accepted a job working for the state vaccinating dairy cows in the central valley of California.
They eventually settled in the small community of Laton on a 7-acre plot of land. By this time, John had his own veterinary practice, almost exclusively as a cow doctor; sometimes he would get calls from clients seeking treatment for cats or dogs, but he would tell them he only worked on large animals…and no, not even on large dogs, although he did do rabies vaccinations for his dairy clients’ dogs. He liked cows and enjoyed the camaraderie of the dairymen and farmers.
John got to try his hand at growing cotton for a few years before converting the acreage to walnuts, planning for his retirement. He enjoyed working on his ranch and the many projects of remodeling of house and other structures there. He loved to make or assemble or repair everything from dollhouses to stereo components to his old pickup.
John and Charlene joined the Presbyterian Church and were adopted into the local family circles and more lifelong friendships. John and Charlene shared a love of poetry and great literature and music. Opera became especially a favorite in later years. They shared a strong faith and love of family. They loved their ranch, “An Handful with Quietness.”
The kids grew up and left home to seek their fortunes, eventually harvesting a legacy of six grandchildren and nine great grands. The little ranch in Laton hosted many wonderful family gatherings, with homemade ice creams in the summers, roasted marshmallows at the campfire for Reformation Day, unforgettable feasts of so many Thanksgivings and Christmases, and Easter egg hunts over the decades and generations of giggling, radiant, beloved progeny. May each participant cherish the memories of those days among the keepsakes and heirlooms of our family treasures.
Tragically, David passed away unexpectedly in 2009, and Charlene passed away in 2013, just a few months shy of their 70th anniversary.
John remarried in 2015 to Marie Burns. John and Marie enjoyed time with their church family where they met, New Hope Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Marie’s daughter Genelle and son-in-law Rusty have blessed them by helping to maintain the Laton ranch and allow John to live out his days there in their loving care.
John went home to be with his Lord early in the morning of 2/5/2020 at the age of 96. May he rest in peace in the everlasting arms of his Lord and Savior.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also. “ John 14:1-3