Nov. 29, 1940-Aug. 4, 2019
John L. Stoppler, 78, died unexpectedly on August 4 at his home in Anaconda, Montana, doing what he enjoyed most – puttering in his shop. John, more fondly known as Red, Pops and Papa Red, was born on November 29, 1940, in Dickinson, North Dakota, to John and Betty Stoppler, joining a large blended family that eventually included 4 girls and 3 boys.
John enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the age of 18, launching his 35-year military career first as a Flight Engineer/ Crew Chief that stationed him at several bases including Blytheville AFB in Arkansas. It was during his time in Arkansas he became smitten with a young beauty, Bertha, and her small daughter, Robin. It was also during this time that he became the “favorite son” of Bertha’s close-knit family. They married in Blytheville, Arkansas and here they welcomed John L. Stoppler Jr. to their family. Four years later he moved his new family to northeastern Montana for an assignment at the Glasgow Air Base, after which they moved to San Bernardino, California. During his career with the USAF, John completed hundreds of flights transporting both troops and supplies overseas during the Vietnam War. Upon retiring from active duty, he entered the Air Force Reserves where he was a Squadron Commander at Norton Air Force Base. Upon retiring from military service, he began his Civil Service career where he played a pivotal role in the development of several top-secret military programs including the B-1 Stealth Bomber, the Space Shuttle and numerous Missile Defense Systems.
In 1994, John’s life changed forever with the passing of Bertha, and he eventually decided to relocate to Anaconda to be near his brothers and sisters. They enjoyed the outdoors, family picnics and water fights. With his insatiable desire to help others, John became an active and dedicated volunteer of the Anaconda Pintler Search and Rescue, the American Red Cross and the Acacia Lodge #33 of the Masonic Lodge. He also became a pivotal influence in the lives of his young grandchildren -- John III, Justin and Lauryn Stoppler. It was at this time John met and married the next love of his life, a Missoula beauty named Jackie expanding his family to include her brothers, her two sisters, brothers-in-law and her two children, Chuck (Angie) and Sandy and grandchildren Coby, Amanda, Nicole, Amber and Justin. John and Jackie spent countless hours together hunting, fishing, loving rivalries on the golf course and simply enjoying their time together. John often said he was lucky to have the good fortune to have met and married two wonderful women in his lifetime.
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John was preceded in death by his first wife and mother of his children, Bertha; his parents; his sisters, Mary Loback, Eva Renfield, Angie Laws and Delores Hurlburt; and his daughter, Robin and her son, Keith.
John is survived by his wife, Jackie; her son, Chuck and daughter, Sandy and her grandchildren, Amber, Justin, Coby, Amanda and Nicole; his son, John, daughter-in-law Maria and his grandchildren, Johnny, Justin and Lauryn; his brothers, Marty (Susie) Mavrinac and family and Joe (Diane) Mavrinac and family; and his extended family in Blytheville, Arkansas. He also leaves behind many nieces, nephews and friends who all will miss Red, Pops and Papa Red’s unending generosity, sweet smile, gentle demeanor and unconditional love.
A celebration of John’s life will take place at Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral Home, Anaconda on September 12th from 3 to 4 p.m. Memorials may be made to the Shriners Children’s Hospital, P.O. Box 2472, Spokane Washington 99210-2472.
Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral & Cremation Service is entrusted with John’s funeral arrangements. You may pay your condolences at www.longfellowfinneganriddle.com.
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