John Edwin Rootham passed away March 31, 2023, at his home in Glyndon, Minnesota. He entered the VA Hospital at Fargo on January 31st, and transitioned to the Elim nursing facility through February, finally coming home underHospice of the Red River Valley care with his wife Andrea attending him at their home through March.
John was born June 12, 1943, at home in Glyndon, to his parents, Ernest and Dawn (Moore) Rootham. He graduated from Glyndon High School, Class of 1961, where he enjoyed playing basketball. He was baptized and confirmed at the Hawley Lutheran Church along with his cousin Tom Legler. John was a member of the Maranantha Free Lutheran Church. His Christian witness was through a quiet and enduring faith.
John had many stories to share about growing up in Glyndon. In the mornings, he arose early and delivered the area newspapers around town. John, along with his cousins and buddies from the neighborhood, was a prolific explorer, builder, mechanic, and guitar picker. He and his accomplice were even known to find some dynamite blowing up the back yard which may have blown out his grandmother’s glass window.
John was also an avid fisherman and had plenty of stories to share about fishing at the region’s rivers and lakes. He happily showed his kids and grandkids how to catch the big one.
After high school graduation, John attended Moorhead Teacher’s College. Then along with his best friend, Larry Wayman, they decided to sign up and join the military. In April 1962, John took his initial training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. He boarded a train from Fargo, heading south to San Antonio, and then, later north to Chanute AFB, Rantoul, Illinois, where he trained in aircraft ground power. Upon finishing his training, John was transferred to Kadena AFB, Okinawa, 498th Missile Squadron, 6313th Air Base Wing, with TDY into Cambodia, Vietnam, East China, and the Ryukyu Islands. Out of a group of airmen transferring in to Kadena AFB, he was tagged along with three other airmen to retrain in missile facilities and missile weapons systems training. This was contingent upon completing a full background check which required Air Force personnel to personally make door-to-door visits inquiring about John’s character, his school performance, and completion of a law enforcement background check. Out of the four tagged, two received clearance, and John was one of them. Upon returning to the mainland in 1964, John was stationed at Strategic Air Command, Omaha, Nebraska, 549th Strategic Missile Squadron. SAC then sent him to the Scribner AFB, a communications and missile maintenance base near Hooper, Nebraska, where he completed his final year of service. He was honorably discharged in 1966. Special recognitions were Good Conduct Medal & Certificate of Merit in Recognition of Outstanding Contribution and Service to the Mission of Strategic Air Command. Several years ago, John was videoed about his service during the Vietnam War by Prairie Public TV. His video can be found on YouTube.
While stationed at Scribner, John met and fell in love with his one and only, Andrea Waage. They were married August 21, 1965, at the First Methodist Church in Fremont, Nebraska. Upon discharge in April 1966, John and Andrea returned to Glyndon where they literally built their home from the ground up, with expansions about every decade or so, and where they have since continued to live and raise their family.
John worked in appliance repair and refrigeration. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t build, fix or repair. He worked many years at the Montgomery Ward store which was near the 8th Street Dairy Queen in Moorhead and at Sears West Acres, retiring about 1995. After that he worked with Mark Akin at Akin’s Electric in Moorhead.
John performed in bands in the Fargo, ND-Moorhead, MN region, singing and playing lead and steel guitar from the Canadian Border into South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska. He had fans wherever he went! John performed with Dave Kolle, Orville Hieb and the Music Makers, Chuck Swiggum, and Country Cargo. He sat in with many groups and enjoyed participating in music jams whenever he could. He recorded on LP’s, music tapes, and CD’s. He had a natural ear for music. Once he listened to a song on the radio, he could pick it out and sing it as if he had known it all his life! Some of his music can be found on YouTube.
John is survived by his wife Andrea of 57 years; two children, Robert (Cindy) Rootham and Kirstin (Todd) Carlson, Moorhead, MN; four grandchildren, Alexander Rootham, Sophie Rootham, Nathan Carlson and Aiden Carlson; and step-granddaughters Tabitha (Michael) Swab and Chelsea Ness; sister Sharon Ahrens, Moorhead, MN; nephew, Dennis Gregor and niece, Denise (Jeff) Elvecrog; with cousins in Fargo-Moorhead, Denver, Texas, and Washington.
He was preceded in death by his parents Ernest and Dawn (Moore) Rootham, grandparents Edwin & Leona (Riley) Moore and John and Hazel (Fuller) Rootham; and great grandparents John and Mary Ellen Riley, all of whom are interred at the Riverside Cemetery north of Glyndon where John will be laid to rest.
The family wishes to express sincere thanks to the Fargo VA, Elim nursing facility in Fargo, and the Hospice of the Red River Valley for their excellent care and support.