When the next history of St. Michael book is written – the first one is magical and available in shops around our community – it will need a full chapter on the life, love and laughter provided by John and Julie Dehmer.
To many, Big John was the more recognizable of this amazing couple, and Julie was just fine with that. While John donned his Santa costume or discussed global matter with friends and family (as a Dehmer, he was related to nearly everyone in those days), Julie would chat up a neighbor or friend or just smiled with her daughters in the corner. When Johnny donned his Santa costume at the American Legion – then on County Road 19 – Julie would put on her elf costume and lovely shoes – her cheeks a bit more rosy and her smile just a little bit bigger, breaking into a chuckle every time Johnny bellowed a “Ho-Ho-Ho!” And at weddings, when Johnny sang out the classic German rouser of “Schnitzelbank,” it was Julie who held up the poster, framed, as people sang along and cheered.
Johnny and Julie. Julie and Johnny. All those kids. And all of those GRANDKIDS. Their family tree was so fruitful, and every one of them adored Papa and Grandma.
They died within 11 days of one another. Fittingly. For one probably just would’ve been a bit lost without the other. Sure, there was so much family around and so much love. But they deserved to enter into the next life together. Julie just got a bit of a head start – probably to warn everyone that John was on his way and he had plenty of stories to tell and things to discuss with everyone up there.
To my children, he was “Papa Pickle.” Years after he donned the suit for the Legion – he would invite my kids (he loved Jenn like family) to his family’s pre-Christmas Party. My daughter would sit in his lap for 20 to 30 minutes, just swapping stories. My son would grab his candy cane from Julie and grab a hug from the first “Santa” he ever knew. My youngest daughter would say “He’s for sure one of Santa’s elves.” And we would, of course, not disagree.
Their house, off County 19 and right by the creek, just after the fire station, will be darker this holiday season. And so will St. Michael, without Papa and Julie. People like these Dehmers were – and always will be, really- cornerstones. A part of what our community was, and what it will be.
Visitation for Julie and John will be held Monday, November 22, 2021 from 4:00 to 8:00 PM, with a prayer service and time of sharing at 7:15 PM, at St. Michael Catholic Church in St. Michael. A Mass of Christian Burial for Julie and John will be held Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at 11:00 AM, with visitation one hour prior, at St. Michael Catholic Church with Father Joseph Zabinski, Father Andrew Stueve, and Deacon Steven Dupay as Concelebrants. Burial will follow at St. Michael Cemetery.
John and Julie were preceded in death by their son, Nicholas Dehmer; and granddaughter, Laurencia Witschen as well as their parents and other family members and friends.