Cover photo for John Van Dinter's Obituary
John Van Dinter Profile Photo
1940 John 2022

John Van Dinter

March 9, 1940 — March 30, 2022


Van Dinter, John A.

03/09/1940 – 03/30/2022

John A. Van Dinter, 82, passed away peacefully of Parkinson’s Disease complicated by Lewy Body Dementia on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, at a local nursing home.  He was born on March 9, 1940, in Appleton WI, the son of Edward J. and Georgiana M. (Theyssen) Van Dinter. He grew up in Kimberly, WI and graduated from Kimberly High School in 1958.  He attended St. Norbert College, DePere, WI, graduating with degrees in Chemistry and Physics in 1962.  John was united in marriage to Maureen (Clay, Mellender) in 1982, sharing nearly 40 years.   Together they raised their blended family, surviving the struggles of raising five teenagers all in high school at the same time.

John had a rich and fulfilling work life, starting as a Chemistry and Physics teacher at Waunakee High School.  To this day, many graduates recall the uniqueness of his chemistry experiments and how he made learning fun.  He was later hired by Holy Name Seminary to enhance the education of the seminarians, with similar results. As technology changed and the science of policing became more technical, John made the switch to law enforcement.  He spent 25 gratifying years with the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, retiring as Captain in 1997.  He was particularly proud of advocating for the women of the department, both in skills training and gender-appropriate uniforms.  After retirement he spent many enjoyable summers as a Captain on Betty Lou Cruises.

John was a servant leader who lived a life of service to others in so many different callings.  He spent 26 years on the Westport Town Board, including many years as Town Chair. In that role he was cited for his strong management of numerous emergency situations, including floods, tornados, fires, and reorganization of Town management to better serve the citizens. Additionally, he was very involved in numerous environmental activities at the Town of Westport, Dane County, and State of Wisconsin levels, including Yahara Lakes Assn.  He was a founding member of Waunakee Area EMS in 1979 and served his community for 38 years.  He also spent 40 years with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, as both a pilot and a sailor, patrolling the shores of Lake Michigan and Dane County for safety hazards of all types, and participating in all levels of safety training for the public.  He was a member of the Cascade Mountain Ski Patrol for many years.  He was particularly thankful to their instructor for him developing his “thunder thighs” after walking up the mountain in patrol training.  The reward for that hard work was skiing in the Alps with #3 son and his wife, and nearly skiing off the 600’ ledge in the fog! The highlight of his skiing years was being selected for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics as a member of the Olympic medical team, serving not only visitors from around the world, but also those Olympian participants.

On his retirement, John felt that since Maureen was still working, he should become the cook of the house. He spent many hours trying new recipes, of which many were great succeses  John was also well known for his woodworking skills, harvesting not only the wood from his own trees but also looking for exotic wood to use in household items and gifts.  To the delight of his children, he decided that they should utilize their own trees for tapping and making maple syrup.  John had always wanted to scuba dive and to visit Tahiti: on returning from a business trip to Australia with Maureen, they stopped in Tahiti which renewed his interest.  Within a week of return, they were signed up for classes.  Future vacations always had a diving focus, with Australia being their most memorable.

John loved making each of his 20 grandchildren feel special on their birthday. He never had a birthday party growing up, and chose to celebrate every 8th, 9th, and 10th birthday because he felt those years were an important transition from early elementary to middle school.  He made it through 98% of the celebrations and delighted in every one of them!

John is survived by his wife Maureen: children Jason Van Dinter, David (Lori) Mellender, Wendy Van Dinter, and Tacia Hill (Tom Craig).  John enjoyed his grandchildren:  Josh (Sheree), Brianne, and Delaney; Hugo, James, and Cathryn; Zachary (Madison), Amara (Luke), Samuel, Annelise, Lukas, Jacob, Cecelia, Dominic, Maccabeus, Mary, and Adelaide; Cody; Charles, Scott, Paige, and Abby.  There are 8 great-grandchildren:  James, Anthony, Margaret, Belle, Merida, Peter, Kasidy, and Brody.  He is preceded in death by son Clayton Mellender (Dulce Mellender), great-grandson Hayden (Van Dinter), his parents, and his sister Mary Margaret Moreau.

Memorial service will be held at 3 pm Saturday, April 23, 2022, at Holy Wisdom Monastery, 4200 County Road M, Middleton, WI 53562.  Visitation will precede the service from 1 pm until the time of service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are appreciated to the Benedictine Life Foundation for the Wisdom Prairie Fund at Holy Wisdom Monastery.  The immediate family will hold a burial service at a later date.

John’s family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Skaalen Nursing Home in Stoughton Wisconsin for the exceptional care, attention and respect given to John during his final days, especially the staff of Forest View.

Please share your memories at

Winn-Cress Funeral & Cremation Service

5785 Hwy Q, Waunakee

(608) 849-4513

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Van Dinter, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, April 23, 2022

1:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

Holy Wisdom Monastery

, Middleton, WI 53562

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Starts at 3:00 pm (Central time)

Holy Wisdom Monastery

, Middleton, WI 53562

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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