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Emeritus faculty member John Maakestad dies

By David Gonnerman '90
April 12, 2012

John Maakestad '50 works on a baptismal font for a Wisconsin church.

Professor Emeritus of Art and Art History John Maakestad '50 died of pneumonia and other complications April 10 while visiting the Ozarks with his wife, Bobbie. He was 83. A memorial service will be held at St. John's Lutheran Church in Northfield Saturday, April 21, at 2 p.m. (after visitation at 1 p.m.).

During his 38 years at St. Olaf, Maakestad taught drawing, design, painting, printmaking, and sculpture, and for 20 years he designed sets for the St. Olaf Christmas Festival. An avid cyclist, he once pedaled 2,000 miles from the Pacific coast to his home (from which he routinely cycled the 16 miles to St. Olaf).

In Maakestad's final decade in the classroom he focused on teaching art history. He retired in 1994, the same year the college exhibited a retrospective of his work titled A Pilgrimage: I'll tell you where I'm going when I get there.

"When we join him at his artist's table, he serves us his love of nature as the bread of human existence," wrote longtime faculty colleague Mac Gimse '58 about Maakestad in the exhibit catalog. "His cup gives off the aroma of spiritual insight that baffles us in its execution, but inspires us by its energy and other-worldly origins. Thank you, John, for being our host at this latest feast!"

Read more about Maakestad in a Star Tribune story about his life.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or