John Albert Garretson of Eagle, Idaho passed away at 87 years of age on Sunday May 31, 2020 surrounded by his loving family. Born on December 6, 1932 in Salem, Iowa, John was the eldest child of Owen Loren Garretson and Erma Mary Smith. He graduated in 1950 from Roswell High School, where he met his future wife, Carolyn. John went on to college, and the U.S. Army, eventually graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech, and an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Oklahoma A&M. Though he received many job offers around the country, he and his young family settled in Southern California. During his career, he would work on the Space Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP) 8 program, master FORTRAN to write computer simulations, launch warheads into space using Douglas IRBMs, work on Sparta Inc.’s Minutemen ICBMs, contribute to Northrop’s design of the F-35 and their TSSAM program, as well as develop defensive systems on the B-2 bomber. John’s work was integral in shaping aeronautic engineering in the United States and beyond.
John enjoyed hobbies such as square or round dancing with his wife, and annual hunting trips with his family. In 2003, he and his wife moved to Idaho to build their dream home and to be with family. He was also an avid reader and history enthusiast, especially genealogy. He was a benefactor to libraries near and far, but his generosity extended even further. John was a patron of the arts and sporting programs in his community, funding the restart of the Middleton High School marching band & color guard, choral programs & scholarships, equipment for many programs in the district, yearbooks for students, and dental work for children in need. Stemming from his love for his grandchildren, he wanted the community to flourish. Later, he would also go on to extend that family and community care to the small town of Garretson, SD, helping to sponsor everything from shooting clubs to food pantries. Though he was never able to visit, his fondness for genealogy led him to learn that his distant relative was the town’s founder, and it continued his passion for philanthropic pursuits.
John is survived by his devoted wife of 67 years, Carolyn; his daughters Cathy, Debra, and Leslie; his grandchildren Tyler, Johnathon, Haely, Troy, Jenna, Victoria, Leanne, and Sarah; and his great-grandchildren: Brianna, Austin, Cooper, Xavier, Byron, Wyatt, Ryder, and Elijah. He is preceded in death by his parents and his younger siblings Lee, Susan, and Don.
As a respected and adored patriarch, John leaves behind his loving family. His memory and legacy will live on forever in all who knew and were impacted by this witty and kindhearted man. The family look forward to being teased by him again someday, and know that he will be working a puzzle until they are.
Private services for the family will be held on Friday, June 5th.