On Tuesday Jan. 5, 2021, John James Diepolder, peacefully passed away at the age of 62 in Lawton.

John was born April 21, 1958 in Rugby, ND to Donald and Dora (Dionne) Diepolder. John was raised on a family farm 5-1/2 miles southeast of Willow City, ND with his nine siblings. He began his education at the Notre Dame Academy, Willow City, ND and in 1976, graduated from Willow City Public High School, Willow City, ND. John enjoyed playing sports, especially playing basketball as a “Redwing”. John studied at North Dakota State University (NDSU), in Fargo, ND where he majored in agriculture and political science. After three years at NDSU however, he realized that college was not for him. In 1979, he began selling insurance for Combined and Direct Insurance Agency, Fargo, ND. John was a successful insurance salesman, winning regional and national awards from his employer.

In 1983, John left North Dakota. As he told the story, he didn’t know where he was going but he wanted to get out of the North Dakota cold weather so he just “drove south”. By chance, he stopped in Lawton one night. He didn’t have a job or a place to live. He was sleeping in his car his first night in Lawton and a policeman knocked on his window. The policeman asked John questions and was ready to tell him to move along when a small picture of Jesus fell out of his pocket and landed on the ground in front of them. The two talked a little more. The policeman warmed up to John and invited him for a meal and a good night’s rest in his home. After that, John knew Lawton would be his home and that’s where he spent the remainder of his days.

John worked hard and was always thankful and proud of the work ethic that his parents instilled in him. He was an outgoing “people person” and gravitated to work that involved interacting with people. He worked a variety of jobs, including from 1983 to 1999: a Lawton cab driver; from 1999 – 2005: product/car salesman, plastic pipe manufacturer supervisor, data collector; and, from 2005 until his retirement in 2015: as a correctional officer for the State of Texas at the James V. Allred Prison in Iowa Park, TX.

John enjoyed retirement. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Blessed Sacrament Church. He was comfortable in his bachelor home. He liked talking with neighbors, friends, family and sometimes walking a couple of miles a day through his Lawton neighborhood. John remained in his home until 2020, when his health declined and it was necessary for him to move to the Brentwood Assisted Living Facility in Lawton. There, still the outgoing John, he made new friends in his new neighborhood until he passed. He made a special point in his last days to tell those dear to him how much he appreciated and loved them. That was John. He was a good guy. We will miss him.

Survivors include four sisters: Ann (Michael) Brown, Grand Forks, ND; Mary Diepolder (Rob Turner), Columbia, SC; Paula Diepolder (Bill Fleming), Albuquerque, NM; and Sarah Diepolder, Moose Lake, MN; two brothers: Jim (Colleen) Diepolder, Willow City, ND; and Karl Diepolder, Albuquerque, NM; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews; great-nieces, great-nephews, relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his: paternal grandparents: Walter and Sylvia (Lizotte) Diepolder and maternal grandparents: August and Hermine (Bérubé) Dionne; parents: Donald and Dora (Dionne) Diepolder; brothers: William Diepolder and Joseph (Joe) Diepolder; and sister, Lisa Diepolder.

Memorial suggestions include the Dacotah Foundation, 600 S. Second St., Suite 308, Bismarck, N.D. 58504; 701.223.4517, doreene@dacotahfoundation.org, in memory of John and Joe Diepolder.

Due to COVID-19, a Mass of Christian burial will be deferred to the Spring-Summer of 2021 at Notre Dame Catholic Church, Willow City, ND followed by burial in the church cemetery. Additional details will be provided in local newspapers and via email in the following months.

Recommended for you