Ascension Lutheran Church
26231 Silver Spur Rd
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274
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1928 - 2019
John Harold Stolpestad was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Annar Theodore Stolpestad and Flora Wilhelmine (Moritz) Stolpestad. An only child, John was raised in the Lutheran Church, attended St. Paul public schools, and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1951 with a BS in Civil Engineering. His life in Minnesota was filled with adventures with his dog, Mickey, youthful fishing with his father, Boy Scouting, and his college job working in Montgomery Ward's shoe warehouse, which required him to roller skate as that was the only way warehouse boys could rapidly fill orders.

Following university graduation-and the worst snow fall in recorded St. Paul history-John accepted an aerospace engineering position with North American Aviation in sunny Los Angeles. From September 1956 to March 1958, John was assigned to North American Aviation's European Field Service where he worked at bases in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Norway, Libya, and Morocco. It was on a November 1956 trip to North American's home office in Wiesbaden, Germany, that John met Hannelore "Lore" Meier, a bi-lingual secretary.

On September 21, 1957, John and Lore were married in Wiesbaden, Germany. Six months later, John brought his bride home to the Palos Verdes Peninsula where they made their lifelong home. The births of Heide Marie (1958) and John Brent (1961) made their family complete. As the children grew so did John's commitment to the community. He was a charter member of Ascension Lutheran Church. He served as a leader for Indian Guides, committee chairman of Boy Scout Troup 998, a coach, board member, treasurer, and home plate umpire of the Palos Verdes Girls Softball League, and president of Rolling Hills High (now Peninsula High) Athletic Booster Club. John's commitment to many of these organizations oft continued past his children's participation, for which he earned service awards from the Boy Scouts and the California PTA. A churchman through and through, he repeatedly served on the Board of Directors for Ascension Lutheran as well as serving as treasurer, financial secretary (21 years), head usher (20 years), and church historian.

For 38 years John worked as a respected structural engineer for North American Aviation and Rockwell International where he oversaw design programs for the F-100 fighter and the B-70 and B-1 bombers. For a brief period he was loaned to NASA to assist with the Apollo 11 project and was honored for his efforts. Retirement allowed John the privilege to further serve the community, most notably through the Peninsula Friends of the Library. He co-managed the Peninsula Center's monthly book sale alongside his wife. Over the years they, together with many dedicated volunteers, raised over $3 million to benefit the library. In 2017 the Palos Verdes Libraries Board of Trustees named the Peninsula Center's book sale room the "John and Lore Stolpestad Book Sale Room."

Over the course of his life John received recognition for his many good works, yet his greatest honors came when he was bestowed the titles of husband, father, and grandfather. As husband and wife, John and Lore experienced life in 24 countries; their love of travel spanned 5 continents during their 62 years of marriage. As a father, John exposed his children to a variety of travel adventures through family camping trips, summer surf and sun vacations, long winter ski breaks, and European travels. As a grandfather, Grandpa John set sail with Nana four unique times to share the precious gift of travel and cultural exploration with their beloved grandchildren.

John left an indelible mark on his church, his community, and on the hearts of his wife Lore, daughter Heide (Randy), son Brent (Cary), and grandchildren John, Robert, Laura (Kyle), and Miles.

Please join the Stolpestad family as they celebrate John's life on July 6 at 11:00 A.M. at Ascension Lutheran Church, 26231 Silver Spur Rd., Rancho Palos Verdes. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Ascension Lutheran Church in John's name.
Published in The Beach Reporter on July 3, 2019
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