John Wirsing

Obituary of John M. Wirsing

John Martin Wirsing, beloved husband, father and brother, left this world on November 20, 2021. He was 87 years old. At the time of his passing, he was a patient at Saint Luke’s Hospice House in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. John is survived by his wife, Loretta (Longo) Wirsing, sons, Gregory Wirsing and Eric Wirsing, Eric’s wife, Julie Schreiber-Wirsing and John’s brother, Robert Wirsing, his wife, Nancy (Johnson) Wirsing and their three sons, Aaron, Kurt and Karl. He was preceded in death by his father, Albert Wirsing, mother, Marie A. (Harding) Wirsing and sister, Marie E. Wirsing. John was born on December 23, 1933 in Oceanside, Long Island, New York. He grew up in Rockville Centre, Long Island, New York where he graduated from South Side High School in 1951. While there, he played the flugelhorn and french horn in the high school band. He proudly enjoyed relating that, as a member of the band, he marched in the Macy’s Day Parade for three years. Shortly after graduation, John, along with his widowed mother and his two siblings moved to Greeley, Colorado. In 1957, John received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Education-Economics from the University of Northern Colorado. After this achievement, John moved to Denver, Colorado to begin his career as a banker. During his time as a banker, he worked at the Colorado National Bank of Denver and, subsequently, at the First National Bank of Denver. Later, John worked with Blue Cross, which had been contracted by the federal government, to assist in the development of the newly approved Medicare program. John met Loretta in the spring of 1962 at a social event sponsored by the Catholic Alumni Club. He was a past president of the club. Through his leadership, it had grown from a small group to a large thriving social club with many activities. The first time he met Loretta, he went home, awakened his sister and told her that he had just met the woman he would marry. As he predicted, they were married on May 11, 1963 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Denver, Colorado. At the time of his passing, they had been married for 58 years. In 1968, after considerable soul searching, John, with Loretta’s encouragement, made the decision to redirect his career, a decision that would completely change their lives going forward. The couple moved to Fort Collins, Colorado where John attended Colorado State University, graduating in 1970 with a Master of Science ​ degree in Forest Ecology. Then, John received a U.S. Forest Service grant to study the forest ecosystem of the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming under the supervision of Dr. Rexford F. Daubenmire, Professor of Botany at Washington State University located in Pullman, Washington. As a result, the couple moved to Pullman where John attended WSU graduating in 1973 with a Master of Science degree in Botany and Forest Ecosystems. In 1974, John and Loretta moved to Olympia, Washington where John worked as a Forest Research Scientist at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources until 200l when he retired. In 1980, when Mount Saint Helens volcano erupted, John was privileged to fly over the devastated area shortly after the event took place. He reported that it was an amazing experience to view the vast devastation, the steaming volcano and the fallen trees that, from the air, looked like match sticks. After his retirement, John volunteered as a tour guide on the Washington State Capitol Campus. Then, in 2004, John and Loretta moved to Arvada, Colorado to be with his sister, Marie, who was critically ill. In 2006, the couple moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to be near both sons who had moved to the East Coast. John continued to reside in Harrisburg until his passing. John possessed many attributes including intelligence, integrity, generosity, kindness and perseverance. He loved his family very much, always encouraging them to follow their dreams. He was grateful for the unique opportunities he had experienced, especially his graduate school field work in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. His field work was documented in an August 1986 Forest Service research pamphlet entitled Forest Vegetation of the Medicine Bow National Forest in Southeastern Wyoming: A Habitat Type Classification John had several hobbies. Two of his favorites were photography and landscaping. He loved taking pictures of his family and of beautiful scenery and carefully placing them in albums. His love of landscaping was demonstrated by his diligent efforts to sculpture and maintain multiple gardens of flowering bushes, plants and ferns. The result of his artistic work was a beautiful, manicured yard that rivaled a park setting. A Celebration of Life memorial event to honor John is being planned. Date, time and place to be announced. ​
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