At the age of 84, John died at the Sanford Hospice House in Fargo, North Dakota, on July 20, 2021 from complications due to a fall.
John was born in Monroe, WI, to Aileen (Skinner) and John Irving Sarbacker and grew up in nearby New Glarus, a picturesque Swiss community south of Madison. John was a talented athlete and played baseball, basketball, and football with his brother Dick. After graduating from New Glarus High School, he went to the University of Wisconsin, where at 5’9” he made the freshman basketball team. It is here that he completed his Bachelor of Science and Medical School degrees. As a senior he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. In 1958, he married his high-school sweetheart and fellow New Glarus valedictorian, Margaret Meythaler. After John’s internship in Duluth, MN, and dermatology residency at the University of Minnesota, they moved to the Fargo-Moorhead area.
John was an accomplished and admired Dermatologist at the Sanford clinic (formerly the Fargo Clinic and Meritcare) and Sanford Hospital (formerly St. Luke’s Hospital) in Fargo, ND, where he had a reputation for being a kind, caring, and talented physician. John spent considerable time mentoring medical students, interns, and residents.
John was passionate about youth sports. With friends he started the first Moorhead squirt travel hockey team. Later, after being asked by the Fargo Athletic Board, he started an organized youth football program in Moorhead. He coached Park Board and squirt hockey, football, and Babe Ruth baseball. Additionally, John volunteered as the team physician for a number of Moorhead High School athletic teams.
Although John battled health issues throughout his life, he was still able to enjoy family, friendships, fishing, hunting, tennis, and retirement. He especially enjoyed pheasant and duck hunting, as well as walleye fishing. John and Margaret retired to Greenfield Village in Mesa, Arizona, where they enjoyed playing doubles tennis together and loved spending time with friends.
John was a kind man who was deeply loved. He is leaving behind many who will forever hold him in their hearts and minds as an amazing husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, and friend. Terry Devine wrote in the Fargo Forum, “If a person’s success is judged by the number of friends he has made during his lifetime, then Dr. John Sarbacker has done very well indeed.”
John is survived by his wife, Margaret (Meythaler), children and grandchildren: Steve (Sarah) Sarbacker, Isaac and Lydia, of Sioux Falls, SD; Scott (Katherine) Sarbacker, Emily, Ben, Claire, and Meg, of Peoria, AZ; Shawn Sarbacker and Lynn Sarbacker, Jaime, Carly, and Eric, of North Wales, PA; and Stuart Sarbacker (Sara Zeman), Tara and Stella, of Corvallis, OR; sisters-in-law, Janice (Funseth) Sarbacker, Barbara (Meythaler) Norris, and Mary (Meythaler) Donnelly; and seven nieces and nephews. John was preceded in death by his parents, Aileen and John Irving Sarbacker; his brother, Richard (Dick) Sarbacker; and his niece, Cindy Sarbacker.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, August 13, 2021 with a visitation at 1:00 P.M., followed by the program at 2:00 P.M., and a reception immediately following in the Centrum in the Knutson Campus Center at Concordia College, 901 8th Street South, Moorhead, MN. A livestream of the service will be available starting at 2:00 here on John’s obituary page. Please park off of 5th St S, north of 12th Ave S, in Lot KC.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the Sean M. Healey and AMG Center for ALS at Massachusetts General Hospital at https://giving.massgeneral.org/donate/healey-center/.