John Louis DeZell

September 26, 1932February 12, 2021

John Louis DeZell, 88, died peacefully Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.

He was born to Anna and John on September 26, 1932 in Los Angeles, and grew up in Medford, Oregon, with his younger sister Joanie.

After an appointment to the USNA in 1951, he served on the USS Macon and USS Mingo. He left after two years due to health reasons, but was a lifetime member of the USNA Alumni Association, Class of 1955. He went on to graduate from Oregon State University in 1956 with a B.S. in Science and earn a J.D. from Northwestern School of Law, in 1964.

John worked as a life insurance salesman for many years, beginning with Connecticut Mutual Life. He also practiced as a civil rights attorney in Medford. He always stood up for underdogs and believed in serving the less fortunate, especially refugees and immigrants. He was active in politics his entire life, and once ran for the U.S. Senate against Bob Packwood in 1992.

One of the highlights of his life was serving as an instructor on the USS Nimitz for six months in 2007. He was able to travel the world while teaching American Government and Criminal Justice, playing his harmonica wherever he went. He took the 35-ft plunge off of the ship and was awarded “Sailor-of-the-Day” and “Honorary Nimitz Crew Member.”

John, a devout Catholic, was very active in the life of his parish, including the Legion of Mary, Dominican Laity and Knights of Columbus, and had long been involved in pro-life activities.

John was preceded in death by his mother, Anna Bernadine Green; father, John Louis DeZell Sr.; son, Seton; and daughter, Rosalind. He is survived by his wife, Joyce (of White City); daughter, Cheryl Barham (Ted); son, Brian DeZell (Deirdre); daughter, Linda Bright (David); son, Jack DeZell (Laura); son, Layton DeZell (Sarah); 10 grandchildren; sister, Joan Logan (Maurine); nephew, Drew Logan; and niece, Nancy McClellan.

Rosary will be held at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, followed by a funeral Mass at 9:30 a.m., at Holy Rosary Church in Portland. A small graveside service will be held at 1:30 p.m., at Willamette National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to Holy Rosary Church or the Blanchet House.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


John Louis DeZell

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Vivian Brink

February 19, 2021

We shall miss John’s gift of self to inspire others with joy, happiness, hope, and love for God! His love for neighbor was lived out fully in appreciation of cultural heritages for the Irish and Hispanic communities in song, jovial humor, but most especially in the sharing of his Catholic Faith with believers and unbelievers alike for the salvation of souls and particularly for the protection of the unborn! We join our Holy Rosary Church community in extending heartfelt prayers and condolences to John’s family!

Steve Silva

February 18, 2021

John was a very dear friend, and I will miss him greatly. Praying God's peace and comfort for the entire DeZell Family at this difficult time. Requiescat in pace, my brother.