John was born on May 20, 1949 to Leslie and Evelyn (Roth) Hilke of Altura, Minnesota, in Winona, Minnesota. He grew up in Altura, and graduated from Lewiston High School with the class of 1967. He attended college at Willmar Technical Institute, where he earned a degree in animal science, and the University of Minnesota where he studied business and agriculture. It was while visiting some friends in Rochester, MN that John met Wendy Mayer. The two dated 2 years when John proposed with the tab from a can of Coke (Wendy’s favorite beverage). Three months later, the two were united in marriage in Austin, Minnesota. The marriage would be blessed with four children, Aaron, Elizabeth, Ryan and Kimberlee. John worked thirteen years for Cenex in market development with a focus on fertilizer. Then 1989, the Hilke family settled in Barron where John started working for Jerome Foods (now the Jennie-O Turkey Store). John and Wendy made their final move to Hudson in 2001 when John took a job as store manager at the Hudson Auto Stop. He then took over as a store manager for Holiday Corporate.
John was an active and dedicated family man. He enjoyed camping, woodworking, and working around his house, especially on his roses. His favorite activities were those involving his family and being with his dog and grandchildren. From NERF gunfights, reading, and outdoor projects, he always made them a part of things. “No” was never a word in his vocabulary when it came to the grandkids. He and Wendy enjoyed many family outings to State Fairs to Renaissance Festivals. The family took many vacations and camping trips across the country as well. Many great memories were made on the road. He was a very kind and generous man. He treated anyone who came through the door as family and would do anything for everyone.
John is survived by his: wife, Wendy; children, Aaron (Trina) of Hudson, Elizabeth (Chris) Schmitt, of Hudson, Ryan of Scottsdale, AZ and Kimberlee of Hudson; grandchildren, Evan and Heather; mother, Evelyn Hilke of Altura, MN; siblings, June (Henry) Radintz of Orono, MN and Bruce (Amy) Hilke of Rolling Stone, MN; beloved dog, Chewie and many other relatives and dear friends.
John is preceded in death by his father, Leslie, and sister, Jean Hilke.
A memorial celebration of John’s life will be held at 11am on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at Bethel Lutheran Church, downtown Hudson, WI. A visitation will be held for 1 hour prior to services at the church. Services are in the care of the O’Connell Family Funeral Home – Hudson chapel. 715.386.3725 www.oconnellfuneralhomes.com