Rev. John Martin Leaf, 82, of Moline, passed away on January 5th, 2021, at home surrounded by his family. Funeral services will be 11 am Monday, January 11, 2021 at Augustana Lutheran Church in Andover, IL, where his father had been a minister. Due to capacity limitations the funeral will be live-streamed by visiting https://youtu.be/a418Ej9G6vk. Visitation will be from 10-11 am Monday at the church. Face masks and social distancing will be required. The church had sponsored him as a seminary student and John had occasion to worship and preach there throughout his life. Interment will be at the Andover Township Cemetery, where he will rest near his sister, parents, and great grandparents. Memorials may be made to First Lutheran Church in Moline, Lutheran World Relief, or the Jenny Lind Chapel.
John was born March 27, 1938 in Bertha, Minnesota, the fourth child of Rev. John Nathanael Leaf and Ruby Maria (Martin) Leaf. The son of a minister, during his youth his family served parishes in Eagle Bend, MN; Cheyenne, WY; Mead, NE; and Andover, IL. He graduated from Orion High School (IL) in 1956 and Luther Junior College in Wahoo, NE, in 1958. He then moved to Seattle, Washington, where he took classes at the Lutheran Bible Institute. From 1961-1963, he served in the US Army, stationed in Hawaii. Upon completion of his military service, he returned to Illinois and completed his undergraduate degree in 1966 at Augustana College in Rock Island.
It was at Augustana that he met his wife, Helene Norlin, to whom he was married on August 19, 1967. He completed his Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and was ordained as a minister in 1970. From 1970-2003, he served as a minister in four parishes: Immanuel Lutheran in Dunnell, Minnesota; Messiah Lutheran in Mt. Iron, Minnesota; St. John’s Lutheran in Essex, Iowa; and Immanuel Lutheran in Yorkville, Illinois. His ministry prioritized both the official functions of his pastoral office and also outreach to and involvement in the communities in which he served. After he retired from full time ministry in 2003, John and Helene moved back to the Quad Cities, where he happily served as an interim and visitation pastor for many local churches.
Music was important to John Martin throughout his life. He sang constantly, and also played the baritone. Many of the stories of his life that he would share revolved around singing: as a child with his family, in the army with the Soldiers Chorus, and in the churches and communities he served. Singing with Augustana College’s Handel Oratorio Society during his retirement years brought him tremendous joy. John was a member of First Lutheran Church in Moline and enjoyed singing in their Cathedral Choir. He also volunteered with Intouch, celebrated his Swedish heritage, and enjoyed going to concerts, sporting events, and other activities at Augie with Helene. Throughout his life he made it a priority to show graciousness and hospitality to strangers, newcomers, travelers, and those looking for a place to belong.
He is survived by his wife, Helene; three children: Rachel Gertz (Richard), Matthew Leaf, and Nathan Leaf (Kathryn Mueller); three grandchildren: John Richard (J.R.), Alexander Martin, and Astrid Louise; four siblings: Kathryn Nelson (David Cederberg), David Leaf (Nancy), Sven Leaf (Susan), and Carl Leaf (Jane); and countless nieces, nephews, cousins, and extended family members.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Rhoda Anderson (Rodney), and sister Anna Mattson (Rev. Richard).
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