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John Leland Stuart Vaala
May 24, 1937 ~ December 29, 2023 (age 86) 86 Years Old
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John Leland Stuart Vaala passed away on December 29th amongst the presence of a loving family at the age of 86 years old. Born with a twinkle in his eye and a humorous quip at the ready, he charmed people young and old.
He will be proudly remembered for his career in science. He spent 27+ years at Medtronic leading the development of the pacemaker. He also was an employee at Honeywell and Plastics, Inc. where he was a part of the team who developed the joystick used in the Apollo missions including the handle utilized by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on the Apollo 13 moon landing.
He was proud of his leadership with the Boy Scouts of America, volunteering with Pack 456 and Troop 299 where both of his sons were members. He led many camping outings to Heritage, Run River and Many Point Scout Camps. He also participated in High Adventure trips to Philmont Scout Camp in New Mexico and canoeing the first 50+ miles of the Mississippi River.
Always quick with a one liner, he brought an old school generosity, compassion and loving personality. He was born in Dawson, MN to Thorwald Olai Vaala and Henrietta Christine Finstad. He was a 1955 graduate of Dawson High School. He also attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD and graduated from Augsburg University in Minneapolis, MN.
He is survived by his sons, Jeffrey and John; daughters in law, Danielle Weerth and Elizabeth Sikes Vaala; grandson, Lukas John Erich Vaala; sister, Marianne Peet; and brother, Charles. He was preceded in death by his wife, Juanita; parents; and sister Lois.
Visitation: Wednesday, January 3rd from 4-7pm, Dare’s Funeral Home, 805 Main Street NW, Elk River, MN 55330.
Funeral: Thursday, January 4th at 11am. Christ Lutheran Church, 641 89th Ave NE, Blaine, MN 55434. (There will be a visitation on Thursday morning at the church from 10am-11am).
Serving the family is Dare's Funeral Home of Elk River, MN. 763-441-1212. www.daresfuneralhome.com