John Stanley Werner age 72, Mayor of the City of Rice Lake, went home to the Lord on March 25, 2023. He was born on September 20, 1950 to parents, Thomas & Patricia (nee; Dulinski) Werner. John was born and raised in Duluth. Foreshadowing his future military career, John would march his 4 younger brothers around his parent’s yard behind a makeshift flag, making sure nobody was out of step. He met a fetching young girl, Barbara Sue Anderson, in the fourth grade. She used to beat him in a game of marbles on the playground. Little did John know then that he would marry “Barbie Sue” years later. He graduated from Duluth Central High School in 1969 where he was a football standout his senior year. After an injury ended his community college football career, John shifted his focus to another of his passions, service to his country. He enlisted in the United States Army, became a paratrooper, and served his country in the Vietnam War. Upon his return from the war, he married Barb, the love of his life, on October 14, 1972. They moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina shortly thereafter. John recalled over the years with a laugh, “my wife thought she was in a foreign country because of the strong southern accent.” John’s service to his wife and country were a constant throughout his life. He continued his Military service for another 40 years. During a distinguished Army career, he was the First Sergeant of Charlie Company, 367th Engineer Battalion for 10 years. John continued impacting Soldier’s lives after promotion to Command Sergeant Major (CSM). He served as the CSM for multiple battalions, an Area Support Group, and the 88th Regional Support Command. After a short retirement from military service, his country called him back to duty during the Global War on Terror. John helped lead the formation of the 372nd Engineer Brigade and finished an illustrious career, serving a year in Afghanistan as the CSM for the Army Corps of Engineers, Afghanistan Engineer District South in 2009-2010. CSM Werner was awarded the Legion of Merit in recognition of the thousands of Soldiers he led with distinction spanning 4 decades and 4 wars.
In civilian life, John worked as a heavy equipment mechanic at Ziegler for 36 years and was a selfless servant in his community. He was an active Boy Scout volunteer serving as Cubmaster of Pack 7 and Scoutmaster of Troop 7 from 1985-2003. John was active in the Duluth Combined Honor Guard and served on several boards and committees in the community. He was devout in his faith, a life-long parishioner of St John’s Catholic Church and a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Family was extremely important to John. Barb and John raised 3 children together. John imparted strong values to them that he had learned from his father and mother including a strong work ethic, integrity, a can-do attitude and selfless service to something greater than yourself. John continued his life of service as a Town Supervisor of Rice Lake Township. He successfully led the township through the transition to becoming a city in 2015. That same year, John was elected the first Mayor of the City of Rice Lake, MN.
He is preceded in death by his parents; and sister-in-law, Vera Werner. John is survived by his wife of 50 years, Barb; children, Tom (Tiffany), Julianne (Ryan) Blazevic, and Andrew (Candy); grandchildren, John & Courtney, Abigail & Alyssa, Seth, Mackenzie & Kylie; siblings, Kathleen (Clifford) Bird, Roger, Richard (Judy), David (Nancy), Duane (Lorie); and many nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
VISITATION: Tues., April 4th from 5-7:00 p.m. with a Rosary starting at 6:30 p.m. in Dougherty Funeral Home, 600 E Second St., Duluth; and continues, Wed., April 5th from 9:30 until a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. in St. John’s Catholic Church, 4230 St Johns Ave, Duluth, MN 55803. Interment with full Military Honors at Calvary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Rice Lake Memorial Park for Veterans;
c/o Duluth Honor Guard
5814 Grand Ave
Duluth, MN 55807