Back to Stories

Memories of Uncle John Jungas


John P. Jungas
March 24, 1910 - February 2, 2002

Paul:

I talked with all my kids to let them know of Uncle John's passing. John, my son, said that Uncle John took him to the local Dairy Queen and treated him to the first Dairy Queen he had ever had. This is one of his vivid memories.

For me, it was playing with Barbara and Lois, and Bob and Marion. I can still remember Uncle John's home and being impressed by its beauty, and the warmth inside. And Uncle John in the Hardware Store. He was always so cheerful and joking.

And finally, the story behind the fish mounted in the store. How Uncle John could not go and so gave his blessing on one of the other men in his group, and how that man scoffed at the blessing, and the fish was then caught by a third man with the second man's pole, but the second man had to bail the fish out onto land when it broke free in very shallow water. So we sat in endless debates on the feed sacks at the back of the store on Saturday nights when I worked there one summer, and argued whose fish was it? John's--he wasn't there. The second man? But he didn't hook the fish. The third man? But he only got it into shallow water and then man two had to bail it to shore. I think Uncle John will be laughing now and will have solved this riddle.


John, Avid Fisherman


John and Mim

Margy:

I got to know Uncle John after my father died, and Mom, Loey and I lived above the store. It was a dark time for us, and I remember Uncle Johnny (as we called him) always was a vibrant, cheerful and energizing presence. He'd come bounding up the stairs to talk about this or that, share coffee and zweibach and probably engage in a friendly argument with his sister Anna. I expect she is quite happy to have him in Heaven with her and the rest of their family. I also expect Uncle John and my mom are once again renewing some friendly argument or otherčneither one wanting to give in. Saint Peter will have to referee!

I remember Uncle John having such a great time fishing up north with his friends, and bringing home those huge wall-eyed pike that Grandma Jungas would stack in her deep freeze. I don't actually recall eating any of them! Though we probably did. He always did have an air of vitality and adventure about him.

I remember him in his beloved store, charming customers, keeping a sharp eye on business matters, and having coffee breaks with any of his many, many friends. In my mind, he WAS Jungas Hardware - at least for the years I lived in Mt. Lake. It was such fun to visit the store in my Mom's later years in Mt. Lake, and see him still in his favorite role. We visited once during the celebration of the store's anniversary, and he had a wonderful time explaining all the old cash registers and machines, and telling stories about the old days.


Jungas Hardware

And then there were visits together when Uncle John and Aunt Wilma came down to Florida to escape the bitter Minnesota winters. Mom, Grace and I had one particularly lovely visit at their beach place. We walked the soft sand, ate fresh strawberries, played card games, and talked into the night. Also, Uncle John was an enthusiastic shell collector and made so many clever and beautiful objects with his shells. What a cherished time!

With the passing of Uncle John comes the passing of an era. One I will miss dreadfully. It was an era of integrity, honest hard work, strong community bonds, generosity of spirit, unbreakable family ties, and love for home & family & God & a way of life now fading. I think of Uncle John as a superb role model -- as husband, father, brother, businessman, philanthropist, uncle and friend. I count myself honored to be part of his extended family, and to have been his friend. Goodbye, Uncle John. I'll miss you.

Loey:

My message would be that he was a great uncle and I loved to listen to him and mom argue. I hope they have fun together arguing for eternity...what a thought!

Phyllis:

(Phyl was in Hanoi, Viet Nam with her daughter Fran when Uncle John died; she wrote this when she got the email about his death.)

Greet Wilma for me, my thoughts are with her from Hanoi. I know she will miss Uncle John a great deal. I remember him with affection--his stories and long thin nose, and arguments with Mom. Also his lively presence in the hardware store. We are fortunate to have had him as an uncle, an unforgettable part of our lives.


John out camping with a friend


John and Wilma

Betty:

My first memories of Uncle John Jungas were the years we spent with Grandpa and Grandma Jungas when we came back during World War II. I remember him much the way I remember him today - a lean, energetic man who loved to talk and solve problems. His keen sense of humor endeared him to his family and friends. Of course, we kids recalled him by his distinct nose !

I was in awe of the playhouse he built for Barbara and Lois, and I think we Hiebert girls spent more time playing in it while we were in Mt. Lake than did Barbara and Lois. He loved to make things in his spare time.

I think of Uncle John as the greatest champion of Mt. Lake that the town ever had. He tried to interest us and many others to settle there. He felt the values one learned in a smaller community were more solid and lasting. He was a tireless worker and will be missed by Mountain Lake.

Uncle John was good to our mother and stopped for a snack quite often when he worked in the hardware store below her apartment. Mother was so fond of her brothers and loved a good argument with Uncle John. I will miss him as he is a part of Mt. Lake, and the town will seem different without him.

Gwen:

The most pleasant memory I have of Uncle John is his kindnesses when we arrived from India. He would bring GALLONS of ice cream up and put them in the freezer so we could have as much as we wanted - which we did because we hadn't had any for so many years. He just did it - nobody asked him to. Did we think to thank him for it or did he just see our big eyes when we saw SO MUCH ice cream?

Uncle John's jolly, positive attitude about everything is the memory I will always carry with me. He smiled, laughed, joked, and thought every challenge was put there just for him to take on, which he did with zest. He could take on a problem, like building a new hospital, and enjoyed organizing things so that the project got done. I see him fussing and working in the store, always friendly to customers, family, etc. Then he would run up the stairs to check on Grandma and on us when we were there.

I remember Uncle John's home. It was always such a treat to go there. I thought they were so very rich. They had nice furniture and an upstairs, and a back yard. The house was clean all the time. Uncle John had hobbies - I remember the ham radio time. Playing with Barbara and Lois was such a treat. They had such nice toys and we were always welcome there.


Uncle John's Home

The last years of Mom's life I remember Mom and Uncle John's continual, friendly arguments. They could pick a quarrel over a slice of bread - it didn't matter, they just enjoyed arguing.

I really feel sad at his passing. He was an important figure in the life of this girl's early childhood - a stable figure in a life that was so very fragmented and unpredictable.


Jo with Uncle John in front of the Jungas Hardware

Jo:

When we were young, Gwennie and I used to go over to Uncle John & Aunt Mim's to play with Lois and Barbara. I remember Uncle John as a cheerful person who always enjoyed having a good time. One particular memory is of watching movies he had taken of the kids playing, and he would run these backwards--much to our delight. I thought it was amazing that he could make us slide UP the slide and then walk backwards down the steps.

Uncle John always seemed to like to try out the latest inventions. This included getting a dishwasher---the first I'd ever seen, learning to use the ham radio (he helped me call Frank at Wheaton College one time) and, in these last years, learning to go online on his computer and using the email to keep in contact with us. I loved having this contact with him.

Mom had a deep affection for her youngest brother. In the last years that Mom lived back in Mt. Lake, I enjoyed it when Uncle John would run up from the store (where he would work even though he'd "retired") and have coffee and zwiebach with us when we visited. Like my siblings, I remember long arguments between Mom and her youngest brother, with each strongly defending her/his opinion and not giving an inch. Of course, when I'd mention this to Mom later she'd insist that she and John NEVER argued.

I also remember how competitive both Mom and Uncle John were. One time when we were visiting John and Wilma about a year & a half ago, John asked me how old Mom was when she died. I told him she was 90 and about 5 months old. He was quiet for a bit, and then said, "I think I have her beat. At least I will have in a month or so." Knowing Mom, she probably was listening in to our conversation and trying to think how to beat him some other way!

When Barb emailed me that Uncle John had died, she mentioned that he had been "smart" to the end. Again, that reminded me of Mom. I told Barb that I was with Mom in the hospital her last day and she wanted me to find the videotape of "Sound of Music," her favorite. I couldn't find it and thought she might be okay with "My Fair Lady," but no. It was "Sound of Music" or nothing. You sure could tell those two--Anna and John--were the children of Grandma Jungas!

In these last years I've learned to know Uncle John even more through the writings he's shared with our family for our family web page. Our family particularly enjoy his fishing stories and the story about Uncle John's being deputized in order to catch a thief. These writings show again a person who loved life and greatly enjoyed people, and they are treasures that I'm passing along to my kids and grandkids. We've also learned to know Aunt Wilma during these last few years. She is such a delightful person and was a good friend for Uncle John. Aunt Wilma too has shared interesting stories for us to keep with our family history.

Uncle John was a remarkable person. Frank and I will miss him.


We'll miss you, Uncle John