Fr. John H. “Fr. Jack” Brunner, age 81, of Cold Spring, former pastor and superintendent at Holy Trinity Catholic Parish and School in Winsted, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, at the St. Cloud Hospital.
Fr. Jack was born Jan. 28, 1937, in New Ulm, to Henry and Honora (Young) Brunner. He grew up in Fairfax, and attended St. Andrew Grade School, graduating in 1950.
In 1954, he graduated from Crosier Seminary in Onamia, and in 1958, he graduated from Benedictine University of Lisle, IL. Fr. Jack continued his education at St. Procopius Major Seminary in Lisle, IL, graduating in 1962. He earned a master’s degree of education in 1970, and a specialist degree in educational administration in 1971, both from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
Fr. Jack was ordained Feb. 18, 1962, at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New Ulm; he was assigned as associate pastor at St. Anthony Church in Watkins. From 1967 to 1972, he served as principal at St. Mary’s High School in Bird Island.
He then served as pastor and superintendent of Holy Trinity Parish and School in Winsted. In 1983, Fr. Jack became pastor at St. John’s of Searles, and served as superintendent of New Ulm Area Catholic Schools. He then served at Holy Trinity of New Ulm from 1988 to 1991, when he became pastor at St. Andrew’s in Fairfax, Sacred Heart in Franklin, and in 2000, he became pastor at Gibbon, as well.
In 2002, Fr. Jack returned to St. Anthony’s in Watkins, where he served as pastor until his retirement Jan. 12, 2014.
Fr. Jack served on the Diocesan Education Committee for over 20 years, and on the Diocesan Priests Council for 16 years, including four years as chairperson. He also served on the Diocesan Pension Committee and the Diocesan Land Committee.
He was a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters, was appointed state chaplain to State Minn. Court, and was elected to the state court with voting rights. He was also a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus, and served as state assistant KC chaplain and state KC chaplain.
In his earlier years, Fr. Jack hunted elk, deer, and antelope in Wyoming and Canada for many years, hunting elk for the last time in 2001. He hunted moose in Minnesota once, but many times in Canada with a group from Winsted. He also pheasant hunted, and hunted geese a few times in Churchill, Canada.
Fr. Jack also enjoyed golfing, and classic cars, owning several of them over the years. The cabin on Big Fish Lake, which Fr. Jack purchased along with his brother, James in 1964, was his biggest joy and main place for relaxation and retreat.
Fr. Jack is survived by his sisters, Darla Ann Linnenkamp of Minnetrista, and Michele Breitenstein of Blaine; nieces and nephews, Deon Schnichels, Delene Brown, Dallen Schnichels, Darren Schnichels, Dean Schnichels, Andrea Williams, John Brunner, Stephanie Breedlove, Paul Brunner and Nora Dragich; great nieces and nephews; and great, great nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, James Brunner; nephew, Mike Dragich; and brothers-in-law, Don Schnichels, Dale Linnenkamp, and Bill Breitenstein.
A Mass of Christian Burial took place Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 11 a.m. at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Fairfax, with visitation one hour prior to services. Bishop John LeVoir officiated, with interment in St. Andrew Catholic Cemetery in Fairfax.
There was also visitation Monday, Oct. 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the St. Anthony Catholic Church Parish Center in Watkins, with a prayer service at 7 p.m., followed by the Knights of Columbus rosary.
Arrangements were with the Ertl Funeral Home, Watkins.