Salt Lake City, Utah – John Helge Braastad, 65, passed away Oct. 4, 2016 at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A celebration of his life will be held at an open house Oct. 22 at the family home from 1 to 4 p.m. with sharing time at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Friends of Camas National Wildlife Refuge at www.friendsofcamas.org.
John was born July 10, 1951 in Sioux City, Iowa, to Sigfred and Anna (Erikson) Braastad. John grew up in Yankton, S.D., where he enjoyed hunting and fishing and spending time with his family.
Rumor has it he may even have skipped school a few times to go hunting. Fishing for paddlefish at the dam was particularly enjoyed. His family had a Hobie Cat catamaran which they raced around Lake Yankton.
His love of the outdoors would eventually lead to a 31 year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After high school graduation he enlisted in the Navy, serving on the USS Nautilus- the world’s first nuclear powered submarine. Stories of that time probably cannot be shared in a family newspaper.
Armed with a GI Bill, John went to college at South Dakota State University for a degree in Fish and Wildlife, and Education. It was in chemistry class where he met his lab partner and future wife. He married Susan (Susie, Sue) Williamson on Sept. 2, 1978 at her family home in Grafton, N.D.
After graduation, wildlife jobs were scarce so he put his Education degree to work and taught high school biology in Lomira, Wis. He started with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after he and Sue moved to the Green Bay area. Here, Cory Braastad joined the family in 1987 (Go Pack Go!!!). The Braastad Family lived in Wisconsin for 12 years and enjoyed hiking, cross country skiing and bird watching with friends.
In 1992, the family moved to the southern Minnesota town of St. James as a career move for John. The next bouncy baby boy, Casey, joined the family the same year.
John was transferred to the lovely northern Minnesota town of Thief River Falls in 2000 to work at Lake Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge. The family dived head on into involvement with the Boy Scouts of America. He served as Scout Master for eight years and it was a point of great pride that both boys achieved their Eagle rank.
In 2009, the family made the move to Idaho Falls, Idaho, a career move for Sue. It turned out to be a career move for John too as he transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Complex office in Chubbuck where he took the position of Deputy Project Leader where he oversaw the operations of five area National Wildlife Refuges and Waterfowl Production Areas.
John and Sue both became involved with the Master Naturalists and volunteered for a variety of wildlife related projects. Being involved in the Idaho Alpine Club for hikes, skiing, snowshoeing, paddling, meetings enriched his love of the outdoors. A favorite hideaway was the family cabin in Island Park. Among his many interests and activities were mountain man rendezvous, cooking, gun building, and photography.
He loved spending time with Cory while duck hunting and with Casey at fiddle contests. There was never a dull moment in his life. John retired from the Service in December 2015.
John is survived by wife Sue, his sons Cory and Casey of Idaho Falls, Idaho; brothers Bob (Linda) of Bloomington, Ill.; Fred (Linda) of Peoria, Ill., and Sister Brenda Braastad-Nyberg-Cox (Jamie) of Lincoln, Neb. Sue’s family includes Ann Williamson of Oakland, Calif.; Laurie Retallic (Ken) of Idaho Falls; Erik and Aaron of Grand Forks, N.D.; David (Ineke) Williamson of Metulla, Israel; Karl Williamson of Oakland, Calif.; and nephew Rick Williamson of Idaho Falls along with other beloved nieces and nephews.
John was preceded in death by his parents, his brother-in-law Paul Nyberg and brother-in-law Peter Williamson.
Arrangements made under the direction of Buck-Miller-Hann Funeral Home, Idaho Falls Idaho.