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1932 John 2017

John Sternes

January 13, 1932 — March 24, 2017

Lowell “John” E. Sternes passed away peacefully at his home on Friday, March 24, 2017 at the age of 85. John was born on January 13, 1932 in Woodland, California to Vivian (Rogers) and Arthur Sternes. During his childhood, Vivian and his step-father Joe Cosmero (Azores immigrant) raised their family in Dunnigan, Oroville, the Challenge Mine (Siskiyou Mountains), and Woodland, California.

While living at Challenge, he and his brother “Bob” contracted Tuberculosis from their school teacher. Over the course of a year, their mother nursed them to health. John enjoyed living in the mountains and would tell stories of bears and being tracked by animals. When he was 8 years old, he reported seeing unexplained formations of lights in the night sky.

After returning to school, John struggled to keep up but eventually dropped out. To keep him out of trouble, he was sent to stay with his older sister, “Thada” and brother-in-law “Mick” in Woodland. Under their guidance, John learned how to drive cat tractors and farm. In 1949, Mick taught John how to drive trucks for his company.

He worked for several years hauling rice to San Francisco with low horsepower “270 Jimmies.” He loved telling stories, which often started with a description of the truck and its engine. He had a good sense of humor and was light hearted.

During World War II, little “Johnny” followed the Pacific Campaign and helped with war drives. In 1950, when the Korean war broke out, John tried to enlist in the Marine Corps but a hand injury forbid him from serving.

Several years later, John married Vivian Morse and they had a son Lowell (Jr.) and two daughters, Vicky and Tammy, but later divorced. John’s first son, “Joey” was born with severe disabilities and died at the age of 18.

In 1952, John started an owner-operator trucking business. Since he could only afford old trucks, he had no choice but to learn diesel mechanics. While driving a tomato truck, a blown tire caused his truck to veer into a canyon – miraculously, he survived. In 1961 John married Laura “Mickey” McDonald of Esparto, California and they had two boys, Roy and Reggy.

After eight years of driving and “mechanic-ing,” he started a “Jipo” truck repair business, wherein he repaired trucks out of his yellow Studebaker utility service truck. After a few years, he and Mickey moved their family to Mount Angel and Tygart, Oregon. He worked as a diesel mechanic. To help with the move, Mickey’s parents Ben and Chrystal spent a few months with the family.

While they lived in Tygart, they watched the Apollo 13 lunar landing on television, snow sledded, and ate Mickey spaghetti, his favorite.

John’s brother, Bob, opened a trucking company in Yuma, Arizona and he was recruited to manage and mechanic for the new venture. John, Mickey, and the boys lived there until moving to Billings, Montana in 1974 - after a year in Woodland.

In 1976, they moved to Jerome, Idaho and settled on an acre of land, on the outskirts of town. The family often vacationed and hunted in the Sawtooth Mountains. In the 1980s John worked as a mechanic and truck driver. Later he re-started his trucking company. He and his good friend Bryce Backerstaff laughed and often ran the same routes together. John’s hobbies included fishing, hunting, and engineering. He was a life-long Christian. In 1989, he designed and built a 48 ft. hydraulic self-unloader trailer that he used until his retirement.

After the boys moved on to their careers, John worked until 1997. Nine years later, his wonderful wife, Mickey, passed on. Three years later, John was introduced to Bonnie McMullen, whom he traveled with and enjoyed life together. During the last years of his life, Bonnie and cousin Terry helped Reggy take care of John until his death.

John is survived by his brother Robert and sister-in-law, Susan (Wagenbach) Sternes; sister, Cliffine (Sternes) Newton; son and daughter-in-law, Roy and Stephanie (Rodgers) Sternes (grandchildren, Gavin and Loren); son, Commander (USN) Reggy Sternes; daughter, Vicky Hansma (grandson Brandon); nieces and nephew, Arthada “Kim,” Karen, and Christopher Sternes; cousins, Terry and Troy Meyers; and son-in-law, Richard Caldindrini.

Preceded in death were his parents and wife; daughter, Tammy (Sternes) Caldindrini; sister, Arthada (Sternes) and brother-in-law Roy Hotchkiss; parents-in-law, Benjamin and Crystal (Denwitty) McDonald; and brother-in-law, James Newton.

A graveside service for John will be held Saturday, April 1, 2017, 1:00pm at Jerome Cemetery, Jerome, Idaho.

Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on John's memorial webpage at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Sternes, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Starts at 1:00 pm

Jerome Cemetery

Jerome, ID 83338

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