Pastor Juan Nicolas Papaleo, age 81, of Marquette, entered eternal life Thursday evening, July 27, 2017, at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans, in the loving, comforting care of his family.
Born August 9, 1935, in Caguas, Puerto Rico, a son of Nicolas and Lucila (Betances) Papaleo, Juan was raised in Puerto Rico, graduated from high school, and entered the US Air Force there. He was transferred to the United States, serving first at Lubbock, Texas, followed by a series of various other base assignments, with his final assignment at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base. On October 29, 1976, Juan married the former Carol LaFonde at the First Presbyterian Church in Marquette. They made their first home on base and, in 1977, Juan retired from the US Air Force following over 22 years of service to his country. The couple relocated to Monahans, Texas, where, for the next 12 years, Juan served as a nondenominational Christian pastor at Grace Fellowship, a Spanish and English speaking congregation. During their time in Monahans, the couple began raising a family, and Juan made multiple mission trips into Mexico and established several churches in the local towns around Monahans. In 1989, the family moved back to Marquette where Juan was employed in a variety of jobs including Michigan Works, bus driver instructor, and working at Auto Armour. Juan’s most fulfilling times were spent ministering, whether in the pulpit, out of the pulpit, or just by the way he lived his life. For several years he served Marquette’s First Baptist Church as their pastor. Personable, Juan also served as a greeter at WalMart for seven years and finally gave into retirement when health issues intervened. He had been a resident at the Jacobetti Home for Veterans since January 2017. In his leisure time, Juan enjoyed nothing better than being with family and friends, especially the grandchildren. He was an avid fan of the sport of baseball, especially the Detroit Tigers, and loved old cars.
Survivors include Juan’s wife of 40 years, Carol; his children, Lisa (Mark) Bristow of Odessa, TX, Regina (Tim) Gort of Gwinn, and Joanna (Nathan Weber) Papaleo of Portland, OR; his grandchildren, Violet and Eliza Gort; a sister, Nelly Papaleo and brothers, Rafael and Raul Papaleo all of Puerto Rico; his sister-in-law, Janet Brodersen of Marquette; several nieces and nephews.
Juan was preceded in death by his parents; twin granddaughters, Gwendolyn and Gabrielle Gort; his in-laws, Sterling and Ruth LaFonde; and brother-in-law, James Brodersen.
Private family graveside services with veteran’s honors will be held at the Park Cemetery. There will be a memorial service to be announced at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Make A Wish Foundation.
The family would like to express their appreciation to the staff of the Jacobetti Home for Veterans for their professional, compassionate care of Juan and for the many kindnesses extended to the family.
The Swanson-Lundquist Funeral Home is serving the family, where condolences may be expressed online at swansonlundquistfuneralhome.com
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