Funeral services have been set for Pastor John E. Quam at 3:00PM, Thursday, October 12, 2023, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 500 W. 3rd Street, Northfield. Visitation will begin at 2:00PM and a reception will follow the service. Interment will be in Oaklawn Cemetery, Northfield.  Memorials are preferred to the Marshall Public Schools’ Pride in the Tiger Foundation designated for the Mary Quam Herbers award. (  Marshall High School, 400 Tiger Drive, Marshall, MN 56258.  Arrangements are with the Bierman, Benson & Langehough Funeral Home in Northfield.

Pastor John E. Quam died peacefully in Minneapolis after a short illness. He was born at home on January 31, 1931, in Randall, Iowa to Nels and Thora (Larsen) Quam and died October 4, 2023, at Jones-Harrison Senior Living on Cedar Lake.  A Lutheran Pastor for more than 60 years, John was a man of deep devotion – to his wife Louise, their four children, fourteen grandchildren, and four great grandchildren; to his calling as a parish pastor; to sports, which he played as a varsity athlete in college and refereed well into his 80s; and to his Norwegian ancestry, often on display in the classic Norwegian sweaters he wore.  A kind, gentle and steady man, John at times displayed a mischievous and an inventive streak as a boy. While waiting for a doctor to pay what he was sure would be a painful house call to straighten a knee turned stiff by rheumatic fever, he persuaded his younger brother, Paul, to pick up a stout wooden washing stick and whack the physician. In a more constructive impulse, he devised a system so his mother could hang laundry indoors, rather than carry the sodden clothes up the stairs and outside.  That desire to help others was manifest throughout John’s life. After studying at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, he was ordained in 1957 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and went on to serve in parishes in Minnesota and Iowa. These included the three-point parish of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Henning, Elmo Lutheran Church and Folden Lutheran Church in Ottertail County, Minnesota (1957-1960), where the family built a cabin on Ottertail Lake that has been a cherished vacation home for seven decades; St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Marshall, Minnesota (1963-1988), where he and Louise raised their children; and First Lutheran Church in Manchester, Iowa (1989-1996). He spent the last years of his ministry serving as visitation pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield, Minnesota (1997-2017), retiring at age 86. During those two decades, he tended to sick and homebound congregants, making countless visits to offer comfort in hospitals, retirement homes and private houses, wearing out four portable communion kits and performing approximately 300 funerals.  John had a scholarly mind, a precise memory and a profound interest in history. But his family always came first. He graduated magna cum laude from St. Olaf College in 1953, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He married St. Olaf graduate Louise Estelle Hammer on June 16, 1956. That same year he was awarded, but declined, a Fulbright fellowship to study in Norway, his family’s ancestral homeland, so he could stay in Minnesota to help Louise care for an ailing family member.  From 1960 to 1963, John studied at the Yale Divinity School. He received his M.A. in 1962 and his Ph.D. in 1968 from Yale, both in Religious Studies, studying under the renowned Luther scholar Roland H. Bainton. In the preface to John’s thesis, entitled “Jorgen Eriksson: A study in the Norwegian Reformation 1571-1604,” he acknowledges Louise and their children Joel, Lois, Mary and David.  “First of all, I thank my wife Louise, and also our four children who cannot remember when their father was not working for his Ph.D.,” he wrote. “Their cooperation has been a great help to me.”  On obtaining his Ph.D., John had a choice to make between continuing to serve as a parish pastor or pursuing a scholarly career at a university. He chose the former, remarking that “the parish is the laboratory of the theologian.”  John was an open-minded man. While in Marshall, he was among the first pastors in southwest Minnesota to perform a “mixed” marriage between a Lutheran and a Catholic. When Southwest Minnesota State University was founded in Marshall, he advocated for a single religious center on campus, rather than separate ones divided by sect.  John found enormous pleasure in refereeing football, basketball, volleyball and softball, taking pride in giving athletes from middle school through college fairly-called games.

Survivors include his wife of 67 years, Louise Quam, and children Joel Quam (Vivian) of Lombard, Illinois; Lois Quam (Arshad Mohammed) of St. Paul and Washington, D.C.; David Quam of Milwaukee; and son-in-law Jim Herbers of Rochester, Minnesota. He was predeceased by his daughter Mary Quam Herbers.  He is survived by 14 grandchildren: Justin Quam of St. Paul; Ben Quam (Jayne Reynolds) of St Paul; Cassandra Quam (Nate Dexter) of St Paul; Will Quam (Nikki McConnell) of Oak Park, Illinois; Steve Quam (Laura Tucker) of St. Paul; Jacob Herbers of Chicago; Laura Herbers (Chase Adelsman) of St. Paul; Seth Quam of St. Paul; Katherine Quam of Milwaukee; Brett Herbers (Joe Sogard) of Minneapolis; Aziz Mohammed of Los Angeles; John Quam of Canton, Ohio; Sophia Mohammed of Philadelphia; and Daniel Quam of Milwaukee.  He is survived by great grandchildren Noah Quam Reynolds, Cora Quam Tucker, Renee Nicole Dexter, and Felix Quam Tucker of St. Paul.  His brother Paul Quam (Johanna) of Seattle and Grand Junction, Colorado and their children Alison Lehner Quam (Matthias Lehner) of New York; Cynthia Quam Patterson (Barry) of Seattle, and Tim Quam of Edmonds, Washington survive him.  John was predeceased by his mother and father, Thora E. and Nels E. Quam; by his mother- and father-in-law, Agnes and Harold F. Hammer; and by his sister-in-law, Priscilla Tapper.