John "Jack" Flaherty, age 90, of Cottage Grove, went home to his maker, joining many beloved family and friends, on July 4, 2022. John was born October 22, 1931, in Le Center, Minnesota, to William and Katherine Flaherty. Growing up during the Depression, in a family of ten kids, times were often tough, and John always felt fortunate in his adult life for just having a “roof over my head and food on the table.”
After graduating from Nazareth Hall Junior College, he sailed ore ships on the Great Lakes and subsequently served with the Army in the Korean War. He then worked at Waldorf Paper Company for four years while attending St. Thomas College, where he received a B.A. in history. While there, he married Winnifred Murphy. They had six children and took in 35 foster children over the years. John later worked as a Veterans’ Employment Officer in Red Wing, and later for the Training School in Red Wing, Minnesota. The family moved back to St. Paul, where he worked for the Social Security Administration, later transferring to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and then to Mason City, Iowa for 27 years. He then worked for the Northern Iowa Transition Center as a counselor, retiring at age 75. After his wife’s death, he moved to Cottage Grove, Minnesota, and married Patricia Levang, a former nursing classmate of Winnie. John was active in his church, especially in Mason City where he taught RCIA, organized 24 Renew Groups, and sang in the choir. He was a 50-year member of the Knights of Columbus and the VFW.
His children remember how he took them on camping trips, afternoons to the lake, skating and sledding outings, as well as the many family reunions of volleyball, card games, campfires, stories, and sing-a-longs. He made sure they had those childhood pleasures of the great outdoors. John was an accomplished 500 and Bridge player, as well as a leading voice in the church choir, and a scholar of the bible.
Preceded in death by wife, Winnifred “Wyn” (nee Murphy); parents, William and Katherine (nee Kehoe); siblings, William, Michael, Ann Holle, Rita Evans, Jerry, Maureen, and Bernadette. Survived by wife, Patricia “Pat” Levang (nee Green); children, Colleen (Gary Swedberg), Maureen, Jeanne Flaherty-Gonzalez (Francisco Gonzalez), Kate (Terry Bolling), Tim (Robyn), and Shannon (Troy Hull); grandchildren, Christine, Haley, Briget, Emilia, John, Javier, and Jacob; brothers, David, Edward, and Daniel; and numerous nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.
The family would like to extend their sincere and immense gratitude to the staff at Norris Square, specifically the 3rd floor Hearth staff, who gave our dad/husband such loving, attentive, dignified care during his last months of life. We feel bonded to you and cannot express how thankful we are that each of you that cared for him, were part of his transitional journey from this life to the next.
Mass of Christian Burial 10:30 AM with visitation beginning at 9 AM, Monday, July 11, 2022 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 920 Holley Ave., St. Paul Park, Minnesota 55071. Final resting place will be in Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery, Mason City, Iowa at a later date.
Donations preferred to St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.
LIVESTREAM INFORMATION: For those who would like to participate in John’s service via livestream, you can watch the service at 10:30 AM, Monday, July 11, 2022. It can be viewed by scrolling to the bottom of this page, and "CLICK PLAY" to begin. Please leave a message of support on our Tribute Wall to let the family know you were able to watch the service. If you are having troubles with the Livestream, the service will be available to watch later in the day.