John William Glotfelty
Dr. John William Glotfelty, 88, died peacefully on February 23, 2017, after a short illness. The son of Galen Floyd Glotfelty and Mary Susan Boley, John was born September 28, 1928, in Des Moines Township, Jefferson County, Iowa. He grew up on farms in the Batavia and Libertyville area outside of Fairfield, Iowa. His parents and extended family had lived in the vicinity since their ancestors began settling in the area in the early 1840s. Though “cash poor”, they had strong bonds with relatives and friends in the community and in the Church of the Brethren, where his grandfather was a minister.
John’s upbringing on the farm instilled in him the characteristics he displayed throughout his life: smart, determined, hard-working, generous, practical and pragmatic, stoic (to a fault, sometimes), and good humored, usually in a mischievous way. From the time he could walk, it was John’s job to gather eggs and feed the chickens. Even as a small boy, he had work to do. He’d sit on the sloping roof of the chicken house with a broom to keep birds away from dried corn laid out on big sheets. In the family’s vegetable garden, his mother would make the row, John would drop the seeds, and his older brother Wayne would cover them up. The boys kept weeds out of the garden. John helped snap the beans and shell the peas. He’d push the corn, peas, and beans down into jars in the cold-packing process. When reminiscing, John recalled that the first greens in the spring were dandelion greens. He loved them. His mother would use bacon grease, heat it, and pour it over the greens, which would make them limp. She never grew head lettuce – only leaf lettuce. John didn’t even know what a head of lettuce was until he was much older. As he grew, his responsibilities grew. Though he eventually left the farm, the farm never left the man.
After attending several one-room school houses in Des Moines Township, John moved into Fairfield to attend Fairfield High School, which he completed in three years, graduating in 1945. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree from Fairfield’s Parsons College in 1948. He excelled in school, but it was never his sole occupation. When not helping on the farm, he worked. As he grew up, his employers included Leber’s Department Store, Brown Lynch Scott Retail, the Rex Theater, and the Co-Ed Theater. However, it was as a photographer that he generated enough earnings to help pay for his education. He was a photographer for his high school, for the Centennial Edition of the Fairfield Ledger, and for himself, taking pictures of everything from weddings to babies to local news events.
Because he was too young to be admitted to Medical School in 1948, he studied Biochemistry and Physiology at the State University of Iowa in Iowa City for a few semesters. In 1949, he was admitted to the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Graduating in 1953, he ranked first in his class all four years.
He began his career as a physician as an intern with the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) in 1953. His service included a stint on the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker “Northwind”, during which one of his pictures from Point Barrow, Alaska, of a “blanket-toss” was published in a Britannica Encyclopedia Year Book. He completed his PHS Residency in Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat in 1961, became a Board-certified Ophthalmologist, and entered private practice with the Lakeland Eye Clinic in August 1961. He was a highly respected physician and surgeon, practicing until August 2004. His patients would express their appreciation in ways large and small throughout the years. He returned their devotion by always making himself available to answer a question or check someone’s eyes – even using some equipment he kept at home.
Before heading off to medical school, John married Bonnie Jeanne Dunnuck of Fairfield in May 1949. She was the love of his life and his partner in building his career and in raising their six children. They were family-centered, and ensured their children knew how to enjoy themselves as well as to grow into responsible citizens. They also loved to travel, and to give their children opportunities to see faraway places, including Tunisia, parts of Europe, China, and Russia, as well as different parts of the United States. They also hosted numerous professionals and students visiting from other countries. Some of those visitors became lifelong friends of the family.
John was in the Iowa National Guard during college and joined the Florida National Guard (Medical) in 1980, retiring as a Colonel in 1992. He was widely recognized for his contributions and achievements. Among his military awards are the Distinguished Service Medal (1990), Army Commendation and Achievement Medals, and The Legion of Merit (1993).
John was an Officer and/or Board Member of most of the medical-related professional associations of which he was a member, including President of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology (1975-76). He was appointed to the Florida Board of Medicine in 1991 by then-Governor Lawton Chiles, and served in that capacity until 2001. He was also active in representing medical issues and concerns to officials in the Federal and State governments.
His civic engagement was also significant. One example was his active membership in the Kiwanis Club of Lakeland. He had perfect attendance for more than 45 years, and served as a committee chair and for two terms on the Board of Directors.
After his retirement, John continued to work as a volunteer physician for both the Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine (LVIM) and the Polk County Health Department. He was regularly appreciated for his ongoing and lasting contributions, and even named LVIM’s Volunteer of the Year in 2007.
John and Bonnie were not just pillars of their community and wonderful parents to their children. They were also wonderful and devoted children to their parents. Both their parents moved from Iowa to Florida and lived in homes nearby. Throughout their older years, John and Bonnie made them beloved parts of the extended family, and as needed, provided aid and comfort. They provided a tremendous example.
John had a wide range of interests, but chief among them was his sentimental attachment to his roots in Iowa and his belief in the importance of preserving history for future generations. His initiative, drive, and financial support are the reasons that the Des Moines School #1 was rehabilitated and is open for visits by school children, and the Libertyville Church of the Brethren, established in 1844, was rehabilitated. He took great pride in the completion of these projects, as well as in being honored by inclusion in the Fairfield High School Wall of Honor in 2007 and the Parson’s College Wall of Honor in 2011.
John was preceded in death by his wife Bonnie, his brother Henry Wayne, his brother James Galen (1918-1925), and his parents. He is survived by his six children, fourteen grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. His children: John David (Carmen Ortiz) of Kissimmee, FL; Robert Galen (Barbara Rajchel) of Springfield, VA; Emma Jeanne (Mark Randall) of St. Charles, MO; Michael James (Tammy Feucht) and William Randolph (Karla Feucht) of Lakeland, FL; and Edward Neil (Kelly McKee) of Mechanicsburg, PA. His grandchildren: Thaddeus John Glotfelty (Lila Gollogly); John David Glotfelty (Jenny Dillingham); Laura Jeanne Randall (Joel Ensey); Carmen Susan Glotfelty; Derek Daniel Randall (Rebecca Weaver); Stephanie Glotfelty; David Phillip Randall (Whitney Burrows); Bonnie Ann Glotfelty; Olivia Ashlin Glotfelty; Jacob Paul Glotfelty; Schuyler Neil Glotfelty; Chandler Scott Glotfelty; Miranda Elizabeth Glotfelty; and BreAnne Michelle Glotfelty.
A viewing will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 17, at the Behner Funeral Home, 203 S. Main St., Fairfield, Iowa, 52556. A funeral service will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 18, at the Libertyville Church of the Brethren, 1425 230th St., Batavia, Iowa, 52533. Immediately following the service, interment will take place at the Dunkard Cemetery, where all John’s ancestors have been buried since Michael Glotfelty moved to Jefferson County in 1843.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE) of Lakeland, 1232 E. Magnolia St., Lakeland, FL 33801, or the Libertyville Church of the Brethren, 1425 230th St., Batavia, IA 52533-7527.
On-line condolences can be made to the family at: behnerfh.com.
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