John Lema (1929 - 2019)

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Service Information
Wilson Family Funeral Home
1290 Winton Way
Atwater, CA
Friday, Jun. 28, 2019
10:00 AM
St Anthony's Church
1801 Winton Way
Atwater, CA
View Map
Funeral Mass
Friday, Jun. 28, 2019
10:30 AM
St Anthony's Church
1801 Winton Way
Atwater, CA
View Map

John S. Lema
February 18, 1929 - June 18, 2019
John passed away surrounded by his kids, grandkids, sister Willie and nephews and nieces on June 18, 2019. John was born in his parents' home in Los Banos on February 18, 1929 to John and Elvida Lima. John, his brother Joe, sisters Mary and Willimena and his parents moved to Livingston in 1936 and had a dairy farm on Lincoln Rd. He started milking cows at a very young age with his brother Joe. They would work as fast as they could in order to make their next game. He learned the love of sports playing football and baseball with his cousins and his brother. John played four sports: baseball, track, football and basketball at Livingston High.
John was involved in 4-H and met his future wife Eleanor on a club trip. They married at 19 years old in a double wedding with Eleanor's twin sister Elouise and husband Leonard. They celebrated their 70th anniversary just a week before Eleanor passed this past September. Soon after marrying, they started a dairy in Livingston and they farmed until 1953 when John was drafted and served in the Korean War. John served on Korea's 38th parallel the division line between North and South, but he eventually was able to play baseball for the Army in Korea. When he returned from the war, they continued to dairy and eventually moved to the McSwain area in 1961 where they raised their family. John served on the San Joaquin Creamery board in Los Banos and was honored over the years for his high performing cows and his impact on the farming community.
John played many sports as an adult including baseball, bowling, basketball and softball. He played senior softball into his late 80's. He and Eleanor travelled many years to St. George, Utah where John played in the Senior Olympics with his travel ball team.
He loved to play sports, but his real passion was coaching. He was at his best when he was on the ballfield working with ballplayers. John's 50 years of coaching included McSwain baseball and basketball, Atwater High baseball and football, Livingston High and Merced College baseball. The relationships he formed with his fellow coaches and ballplayers went beyond the ballfield which he revered.
John is proceeded in death by his wife Eleanor, parents, brother Joe, sister Mary, and baby sister Emily. He is survived by his sister Willie; children, Danny (Shelley), Johnny (Cindy), Carol (Mike); 7 grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
A Rosary will be held on Friday June 28, 2019 at 10 am at St Anthony's Church at 1801 Winton Way, Atwater. Followed by a Mass at 10:30 am. A reception will follow at the Buhach Pentecost Hall. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Anthony's Church.

Published in the Modesto Bee on June 25, 2019
bullet Korean War
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