John "Chris" Woelk

August 24, 1945July 2, 2018

John Christian "Chris" Woelk, Oakwood, MO, died at home July 2, 2018 after a brief illness.

Born August 24, 1945 to John and Mary Woelk in Russell, KS. He learned farming and hard work from his father, a prominent lawyer and farmer, in Russell County. Chris served with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1968-69. He maintained a website, of his photos and those of other soldiers.

Chris married Candy Grove in 1976. They operated Woelk's Blackberries outside Lexington, MO from 1984-2004. They moved to Oakwood, MO in 2006, where Chris enjoyed his neighbors, his dog, Thai food, and Maui Jim sunglasses. Favorite activities included ping pong with friends and gardening.


John "Chris" Woelk

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Andoni Garcia

January 10, 2019

Greetings from Spain, my name is Andoni Garcia and I want to convey to the family my most important sense. I will tell you that I met Mr. Chris through the internet, while looking for information about the Vietnam War, he showed me his website where he tells us about his stay in Vietnam and we sent many emails. I told him that I had had a child and that it was very busy for me, and he told me that he wanted to write about Vietnam again, the months went by and now at the Christmas parties seeing that I have not tested my messages, I searched the internet and discovered that he has passed away.
I'm very sorry, we were missing so many things to talk about ...
I want to add my email, in case the family wants me to send them the conversations we had together.

Kirk Sweitzer

July 12, 2018

It was quite a shock to hear of this. I had been in contact with Chris in early June and he mentioned that he and Candy were well.

I first met Chris when he and John Clark visited my brother, Jack. They were all in the same unit in Vietnam and Chris and John witnessed Jack get seriously wounded. Years after the war ended Chris and John discovered that Jack had survived the wounds and they found and contacted Jack. Chris did not forget his experiences in war and he did not forget the men he served with.

When he was visiting Jack I learned of the work he has done and the troubles he had overcome. He had an interesting and productive life I hope remains accessible for the friends and family of those that served, the merely curious and historical researchers for many years to come. It was my pleasure to have met him and I will always appreciate the kindness and concern he and John Clark extended to my brother. Condolences to Candy and family.

Diane Ladenburger

July 11, 2018

We send our deepest sympathy. Chris was such a nice person and my mother, Darlene Woelk, holds him dear to her heart. She and my father lived with Chris and his parents the first year of their marriage. My mother has always spoken so highly of Chris and his kind heart. He came to her 85th birthday party on May 12th,and she cherishes their visit together. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Diane Woelk Ladenburger

li he

July 11, 2018

In the years that we have known Chris, he had always been a kind, gentle, playful and curious friend who always had a ready smile on his face. In fact, whenever I think of him, it is HIS smile that pops into my mind. He was infinitely curious about numerous subjects. He also showed genuine interests in learning about different cultures and lives that people have led. He and my father became instant friends despite the fact that my father speaks almost none English, and Chris spoke little Chinese. His love for people was not bound by language or cultural differences. He knew we are all connected by the common thread of humanity. We will miss him dearly.

Nancy Selbe

July 11, 2018

So sorry to hear of Chris's illness and passing. I was blessed to meet and work with him for his photography show at the Deines Cultural Center in Russell. I learned much from him and counted him as a friend. Peace to all.

Doug Teel

July 11, 2018

Chris was my best friend when we began Kindergarten and remained my best friend throughout our lives. We talked weekly and never lost a thought. He had an educated opinion on most issues and could debate with the best. I admired Chris for his fortitude, keen insight, and sense of humor.

We used to ride our bikes north of Russell and visit the German Caves, some spring fed ponds, and an old stone house we used as a club house. All were on his family’s land. Some of life’s great lessons were experienced on our bike rides.

We used to have lunch at Claude’s on Main Street near the old high school. Burgers were ten cents. Chris, hating onions, would use his dental retainer to scrape the onions off his hamburger and then pop it in his shirt pocket. More than once we had to backtrack to find the lost retainer, fearing the wrath of mother Mary should he lose another retainer.

The night of our high school graduation a number of us went to the river to party. Someone was supposed to bring some to the party. At one point a car drove up to the bluff overlooking our party headquarters. Several of us yelled, “Did you bring the beer?” The person came to the edge, looked down and said, “Yes, send Chris up to get it.” The person was Chris’ father who found little humor in our doings.

When my friend returned from Viet Nam he was angry; not just about the war. Chris was angry at just about everything. Over time, with help from the VA and lots of patience, love, and understanding by Candy, he overcame that anger and turned it into his personal chronicle. His VietnamSoldier web site was very popular with lots of people. Parts of that will remain through eternity.

When we talked about religion I recall him seeming to be at peace with his religion. It is with that memory in mind that I bid John Christian Woelk, III godspeed, tailwinds, and clear skys. Until we meet again somewhere in the universe, I love you my friend.

Liz Thielen

July 10, 2018

To Chris' s family and friends, I extend my heartfelt condolences. I am a native of Russell formerly Liz Laubhan. The Woelk family has been present in many stages of my life, from childhood at the Congregational church till 2001 when John Woelk passed away. I worked for John's law firm the 15 years before his passing. A wonderful family. Peace to Chris and all of his loved ones.

Ellen (Boxberger)Batt

July 10, 2018

Memories of Chris are, smiling, happy and HELPFUL to a Scared under class mate Please accept my condolences.

Gene Martin

July 10, 2018

I am sorry to hear of his passing. Please accept my condolences.


July 10, 2018

Chris was definitely one of the good guys. I was truly looking to seeing him again at the next reunion. He will be greatly missed. My sincere sympathies to his family.