Born to Mary Sadler and John Stayer in Ely, Minnesota. John grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the summer of 1944, he was conscripted into the U.S. Army. In January 1945, he marched with the 4th Armored Division, 151st Battalion of General George Patton’s Third Army into what history remembers as “The Battle of the Bulge.” On Feb. 24, 1945, John was severely wounded after enemy fire exploded his fox hole. He was awarded a purple heart for his heroic actions that day. Doctors amputated his left leg just below the knee at a wartime hospital in England. John was just 18 years old.

Upon returning stateside, one of John’s first stops was to the prosthesis store where he met a striking young woman named Naomi Johnson. In 1947 they married, and in 1951 they welcomed their first son, John, nicknamed “Jack.” The couple welcomed a second son, Mark, in 1954. John and Naomi raised their boys in Brookfield, Wisconsin and were parishioners of St. Luke’s Parish. Despite a life altering injury, John never let it interfere with what he loved most: hunting, fishing and playing with his boys.

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