In Memory of

John Mather Hinn

September 13, 1942 - February 26, 2021
From: Spirit Lake, IA
John Mather Hinn

John Mather Hinn

Born: September 13, 1942
Died: February 26, 2021
Age: 78

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Anonymous Donor, Community Business Leader, Mentor, Friend


John Mather Hinn, beloved husband, father and generous businessman, died on February 26, 2021 after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer.  John’s passion for life was evident from the very beginning of his life.  The son of Robert Maurice and Irma Lucille Hinn, John, was born in Laurens on September 13, 1942. 


John knew a good thing when he saw it.  He often told the story of his “love at first sight” moment with his soulmate, Kathleen.  While John was attending Buena Vista College, he was also managing the Super Valu store in Laurens.  It was there that he saw Kathleen Mefferd and decided he absolutely had to go out with her. Kathi and John were married after just 6 months of dating, on June 12, 1966 and they celebrated their 54th anniversary in 2020.  John was so proud of Kathi that he had a t-shirt made with her picture on the front and he wore it proudly at one of the family’s legendary 4th of July pool parties. 


Nothing made John happier than his family and friends. John had a gift for making everyone feel special with his trademark smile and big hugs.  John and Kathi built their home on the lake to accommodate the non-stop parade of people who stopped by each day, including his many nieces and nephews who always dropped by to see their favorite uncle.  He cherished his time on the lake, especially in the summer.  John always said there were just 69 beautiful, warm days a year and he refused to leave the lake during that season.   John’s passion for his spot on the lake was also due to his need to care for his “Secret Garden” situated on over an acre of his backyard.  He loved growing vegetables and sharing them.  He was especially fond of growing hot peppers.  John’s homemade salsa and hot pepper jellies had a large fan following across the U.S.  Later in life, John looked forward to his timely afternoon meetings and fellowship with local friends at “The Shop”.


When John did agree to leave the lake, he would go to his favorite retreat- Saskatchewan, Canada.  He visited there twice a year to hunt and fish with his son, Rob, good friends, and cousins.  After his High School graduation, John took some time off and traveled with his parents through Mexico.  And, he continued to travel to Mexico every winter with his family and his best friend, Duane Mueske and his family.   


While John liked to have fun, he was also a man of business.  He graduated from Buena Vista College in May 1967. John and Kathi purchased their first cabin in the Iowa Great Lakes in 1969 and moved to the Lakes area permanently in 1974. John owned & operated the Hinn's Super Valu Stores in Laurens  and Estherville, which he purchased in 1974. He continued operating them until 1978 (Laurens) & 1980 (Estherville).  John started in real estate in 1979 at the Orville Carlson Agency. In 1980 He and Kathi, with another couple, started a firm called Town Lakeshore Country Realty. They had opportunity in 1983 to purchase another Firm in Spirit Lake Iowa and not have any partners. They purchased the Fred Dowden Agency and renamed it DOWDEN-HINN REALTORS on January 1, 1983.  It is there that two of their children and their daughter-in-law are REALTORS. Their oldest daughter, Gretchen, is a real estate agent with Keller Williams in New Jersey.   The Dowden Agency was started in 1918, and at 102 years old, DHR is one of the oldest continuous run Real Estate Offices in the State of Iowa.  John’s vision for the next 100 years had them join the Keller Williams Franchise which will enable them to expand into additional markets.


From his earliest days in business, John was committed to giving back and helping people.  From the very beginning of his career, John treated those who worked for him like family. He mentored the carryout boys who worked for him in the grocery stores and bought one of them a suit for graduation so he could be like everyone else.  In 2020, John was named Citizen of the Years by the Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis, and in an interview about the honor John said “I’ve always felt it necessary to take care of the children of the county.  Anything that involves a child, I’m for and will help.”  And while John and Kathi have been generous to a myriad of organizations throughout their lives, they almost always did so anonymously.  They believe that people are meant to help each other, and the stories of their hidden generosity are widespread.


John will be remembered by his children as a generous, loving father who inspired and guided them.  He showed them the importance of living a joy-filled, purpose-driven life. He leaves to mourn his wife, Kathleen, daughter Gretchen (Anthony) Lucy of Tenafly; NJ, son Rob (Angela Bousquet) Callan, Cade, Sophie, Gracie, and Max; and daughter Angela (Eric) Alex, Zac, Oliver and Gus; his sister Marney Norman; numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceeded in death by daughter Heidi Larie, his parents Morrie & Irma Hinn.



John Hinn's Celebration of Life Open House will be Saturday, July 3, from 1-4:00 p.m., at the Farm House at the Barn on Hwy 71 in Okoboji, Iowa.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations are made to: Camp Foster or YMCA, Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Kathi Hinn
P.O.Box 449
Spirit Lake, IA 51360


Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 5:44 PM
“So sorry to hear of John’s passing. I always enjoyed his visits to the law office on real estate matters.”
- Kathy McNeill
Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 3:16 PM
“Kathy and family I am so Sorry to hear that John has died. I enjoyed working at Super Value, and grieve with you . May John find peace, and may you find comfort that he is no longer in pain!
Daniel Carvel Kepler ”
- Daniel Carvel Kepler
Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 10:31 AM
“I'm so sorry to hear of John's passing. I truly enjoyed working for him at Super Valu and appreciated John & Kathi allowing me to spend summers swimming on the lake by their home. Especially remember spraining my ankle while having a fun time at your place and how you both made sure I got to the hospital to insure I was ok. Grateful to know you both. My thoughts are with you Kathi and your family ”
- Dick Kelch
Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 7:54 AM
“Dear Kathi & Family, sorry to hear of John's passing. I am a very old friend of both your Dad & Mom. My Dad ( Mitch or Ambrose as people in Laurens used to call him) managed the grocery store for John's Dad till my Dad passed away in 1965. Then little John took over and I could tell you many stories as I worked in the store in the meat dept until I went off to college in 1966. John & Earl( the butcher) always used to give myself & my friend Kathy Gulbranson Scheich a bad time about boys. Your Mom used to cut my hair in her younger days if I remember right as well as being a friend. I was always going to look them up as my husband & myself both have a love of the Lake to this day. I also knew your Aunt Paulette & Margaret. As you see I could go on & on but have probably said enough already. Deepest sympathy to all. Mary Jo Mitchell Witt”
- Mary Jo Mitchell Witt
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 10:57 AM
“Dear Kathi and Family, John was a 'spark' in the real estate business and local communities. Reading John's Obituary I loved the statement about John buying a suit for graduation of a young man working for him at the grocery store. The donations to many of the Lakes non-profits and 'giving for the kids." May your memories be carried in your hearts for the rest of your lives. Remember John with your tears, sadness, joy, laughter and all he meant to all of you. God Bless John and the Family. ”
- Patricia McGill
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 8:39 AM
“To Kathi and family. John was a good man!!!! You have our deepest sympathy!!”
- Fred Kaminska Karrie Ferguson
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 7:52 AM
“Kathi and family, I am so sorry to hear about John. May God comfort you all and hold you in his loving arms. ”
- Nancy Rickman
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 7:52 AM
“Our office was saddened when we heard of John passing. He was a friend of our for years and always had a smile on his face and something positive to say when we saw him. Our office is a rehab facility and not that many people enjoy coming here. John told us that it made his day to work out and visit with our staff. We liked John a lot. God bless.”
- Dave Halland
Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 7:46 AM
“Bobbi and I send our most heartfelt condolences for your loss. We were among a large group of Laurens young people who benefitted immensely from Johns guidance. I myself have spent my whole working life in the meat/food business thanks to his teaching me to cut meat, manage the store, and learn that hard work pays off. I believe his exact words to me were” everybody has to eat , you might as well sell it to them”.
Again we are very sorry for your loss, John was a good man.”
- Allen Rigby
Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 7:46 AM
“So sorry for your loss. John was a good guy. Joan and Dick Hakes”
- Dick Hakes
Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 7:46 AM
“A life well lived
- Orville Berg
Monday, March 1, 2021 at 12:55 PM
“I share sister Bobbi’s sentiments. John made hours spent at the Laurens pool memorable. He was king of the pool and we his adoring followers. He often sent us off to grab green apples from our neighbor’s tree for his afternoon snack. He decided he was going to make a diver of me. During breaks he would soar through the air as he gracefully executed difficult dives. When I was reluctant to try he would start making chicken sounds and flapping his arms like wings. He was a hilariously funny man. So....thanks for the lessons, the entertainment and kindness John. ”
- Gina Lind Nassif
Monday, March 1, 2021 at 12:55 PM
“Kathi and Family sorry for your loss. John knew how to put a smile on people's face. Loving prayers sent.”
- Ben Sexton
Monday, March 1, 2021 at 10:33 AM
“Rob, Ann and family - We are so sorry for the loss of such a bright light in the Lakes area. Hugs and prayers to you all.”
- Kristie & Tim Wintz
Monday, March 1, 2021 at 10:07 AM
“Dave and I send our very deepest sympathy.”
- Jill Dee Spurgin
Monday, March 1, 2021 at 9:22 AM
“Kathi and family we are so sorry to hear of John’s passing. He will be truly missed.
God Bless
Mary and Terry Heidebrink ”
- Mary and Terry Heidebrink
Monday, March 1, 2021 at 9:22 AM
“Some of my fondest childhood memories are of the summers spent at the Laurens swimming pool where John was the lifeguard. John made every child feel special. I, no doubt, had a crush on him like every other little girl. He was so kind and well as very funny. I cherish those memories and extend my deepest condolences to Kathi and his entire family. I know he will be missed. ”
- Bobbi Lind Mechler
Monday, March 1, 2021 at 7:40 AM
“We are so sadden to hear of John’s passing. Thoughts and prayers for the Hinn family at this difficult time.”
- Bob and Mari Mulhernwe
Monday, March 1, 2021 at 7:40 AM
“Our deepest sympathies to Johns family and friends. Prayers for you all. ”
- Rhonda and David Nelson
Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 11:41 AM
“I am so sorry to hear of John's passing. Seems like I have known him most of my adult life. Always a smile on his face. He always called me Sally C. (high school name) and I always called him Johnny. Our paths crossed often in the real estate world. I will miss his smile, laughter and voice. Prayers and hugs to the family.”
- Sally Christensen DeLoss
Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 11:41 AM
“Our condolences for your loss Hold tight to your memories of many good times! Mark & Sue Hallett Realty Professionals”
- Hallett, Mark D & Susanne
Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 12:57 PM
“May your beautiful memories comfort you at this tragic time of loss. Prayers for all of you. With our deepest condolences, The McDermott's
Mark, Shelene, Madison and Ali”
- Shelene McDermott
Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 11:56 AM
“Kathi & family so sorry for your loss. May God comfort you at this time.”
- Roger & Mary Chisholm
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