John Mildenberger

20 October, 19281 December, 2020

John Joseph (Johnny) Mildenberger died peacefully at Providence St. Peter Hospital, Olympia, Wash., on December 1, 2020. He was 92. Johnny was born on October 20, 1928, in Bismarck, N.D., to John F. and Caroline (Cora) (Jochim) Mildenberger. He was the youngest of four children who were of German-Russian heritage; Johnny spoke German until he attended elementary school where he learned English. After his mother died when he was 14, Johnny lived in Seattle, Shelton, and Union, Wash. He especially enjoyed his time in Shelton/Union, where he first lived with his father, as a young adult with his sisters and brother in-laws, then again in his early retirement, he considered that area his hometown. Johnny returned to Bismarck to live with his aunt Ida (Jochim) Thomas and attended St. Mary’s High School. He was the captain on the football team. He graduated in 1947.

Johnny was drafted into the Army in 1950 (during the Korean War). He was stationed at Ft Lewis, Wash., and Garmisch, Germany. Among his many duties, he contributed cartoons for the troop newsletter. He was honorably discharged as a Corporal in 1952. After the Army, he attended Cornish College of Arts in Seattle, then transferred to Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, where he met his former wife Arlene Corrine (Galbavy). They had three children. While living in Los Angeles, Johnny worked for a short time at Douglas Aircraft Company as a technical illustrator, then was hired by Disney as a special effects animator, most notably contributing to the movies Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians along with several shorts that included Paul Bunyan and Donald Duck. After Disney, he worked for Boeing in Seattle, then moved back to Los Angeles in 1960 to work again in the animation industry for several independent studios. In 1965 he moved his young family to Olympia, Wash., where he worked for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, Safety Division, as a Graphic Illustrator. He retired in 1992. Johnny was a volunteer fire fighter for many years and at one time, as the Assistant Fire Chief at Griffin Fire Department #13. He also designed the fire department’s logo. After retirement he taught CPR and traffic flagging classes at South Puget Sound Community College. Johnny was a member of both Saint Michael (Olympia) and St. Edward (Shelton) Churches. He enjoyed volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul clothing bank (Olympia). As a Dad and Grandpa, he frequently said “family” was his favorite word. He rarely missed an event that involved his children or grandchildren: sporting events, horse shows, or plays, you name it, he was there. As a Friend or everyone’s favorite Uncle Johnny, he liked getting together for a cup of coffee or a “Gimini.” He especially enjoyed his wine pals on the Hood Canal and his Thursday coffee buddies at Budd Bay Cafe. He had a great sense of humor and MANY friends; he was always available if they needed help. Johnny was an avid portrait and landscape painter, enjoyed gardening, playing golf, reading history books, watching football, Gonzaga basketball, golf, westerns, and M.A.S.H. He always had pets.

Johnny was preceded in death by his parents and aunt; brother Nicholas (Nick) Aton Mildenberger (Helene); sisters Rose Magdalene Smith (James) and Helen Caroline Smith (Patrick); and many lifelong friends. He is survived by his children, Steven John Mildenberger (Tamara), David (Joey) Joseph Mildenberger (Stefanie), and Pamela Arlene Mildenberger (Robert Beck); his grandchildren Darien Steven Springer, Kalina Corine Springer, and Charlotte Keeva Mildenberger; Many nieces and nephews, and a multitude of friends and acquaintances. He wrote in his journal “When I’m gone and you think about me, make sure it be with smiles and laughter; if you think about me with tears, make it tears of joy.” He will be greatly missed. A Memorial and PARTY will be held at a later date when we all can get together without restrictions. Stay tuned!


  • Funeral Mass

    Friday, 7 May , 2021


  • Possible Reception Following Mass

    Friday, 7 May , 2021


John Mildenberger

have a memory or condolence to add?

Sandy and Robin Griggs

15 February 2021

We are so saddened by your loss. John was always there with a hug,a smile and a great conversation. So many great memories we have and will cherish. He has left a great legacy with his amazing family.
Love you ❤️

Pat Harvey

13 February 2021

Sending warmest regards to all. Johny was a great guy and much loved by all. Pat Harvey

June Simpson

9 January 2021

Pam, Steve, and Joey and your families,
I am so very sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I saw some of his art work at the Tumwater Labor & Industries building a few years back. He was a very talented guy. Many memories of the Elizan Road area — a great place to grow up and great families there.

Patricia Ordos

14 December 2020

So very sorry for your loss and my loss of a great church partner. Johnny and I, along with Lou Miller, would help with Saturday night collection at St Michael Church. I will miss his hugs and getting updates about family. I also knew Johnny from working for the state, decades ago, when we both worked downtown on 4th avenue; we worked for different sections but right next door. He will be missed.

DeAnna Reiten

10 December 2020

So sorry to hear of your loss. Our thoughts are with you all.
Jeff and DeAnna (Denny Turners family)

From the Family
From the Family