John Bergquist

John Evans Bergquist, age 71, beloved son, brother, father, grandfather, and uncle passed away September 9,  surrounded by his loving family.  He was the son of Evans and Marilys Bergquist who predeceased him. John was born in Escanaba, Michigan on May 28, 1947. Here he formed his foundation: love of family, faith in God, respect for nature. One of his favorite places on earth was “The Farm”, his grandma Chris’s childhood home where family gathered making memories every weekend. When John was 14, the family moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Here he grew into a young man, playing football, basketball, hockey and playing music on the cornet. He also became a lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers.  Go Pack Go!  In John’s Senior year, the family moved to Gaylord.  He played football, basketball, and also began working at Kunish Clothing and The Otsego Ski Club.  He graduated from Gaylord High School in 1965 and in just one year had formed many heartfelt friendships.  He attended Northwestern Michigan College, Bay de Noc Community College, and the University of Toledo.
In 1971 John married Diana Toteff and that same year took a job with Craft House Corporation.  John had an amazing work ethic and moved up quickly to become their national sales person overseeing sales reps and coordinating trade shows throughout the U.S. and Canada.  John progressed to run the sales department of five more companies within Craft House and became a very well-respected Vice President of Sales across these ventures. In 1999, John developed his own company “J.E.B. Specialties”.  He cared deeply about veterans, and through this company he worked closely with “Help Hospitalized Vets” supplying them with craft projects which were therapeutic in their recoveries.  He worked closely with his friend, Brian Romberg, for over 40 years in many capacities and also,  Bill Giacci, developing sales strategies for “Classic Metal Works”.  As with anything John did, he developed friendships among his business associates that evolved into a “brotherhood” of friends from coast to coast.  Many a business deal were hatched on the golf course!
John had a “larger than life” personality.  He had a charisma and charm that instantly captured anyone who met him.  He was respectful, generous, funny, loving, forgiving, and kind.  He was an impeccable dresser, loved to travel, hunt and fish.  John dearly loved his family and gave them the kind of care and concern that is rarely seen. He served as an amazing role model and teacher to his children and grandchildren and taught them the importance of family and the value of character. He loved a good party and thrived on social interaction.  Family gatherings and holidays were a huge highlight for John. Among many wonderful extended family members whom John loved and cherished are Mark and Nancy Toteff, Mary Robertson, Bret and Bonnie Miller, Wayne and Babe Toteff, and all of their children.
Surviving are Diana Bergquist, three children; Darren Bergquist (Heather Bergquist), Ryan Bergquist (Trisha Bergquist), Ashlee Bergquist (Brian Davis); his sister, Lynda Bergquist Slaggert (David Slaggert); six grandchildren, Jaeger, Rocco, and Liv Bergquist, Morgan and Kylee Bergquist, and Mika Davis; along with many nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord, on Saturday, September 15, at 11 AM with viewing at the church at 10 AM until the time of the service.  Visitation at the Nelson Funeral Home will be held on Friday, September 14, from  4 – 8 PM.  A rosary will be given at 7 PM at the funeral home.  Memorial contributions in his honor may be made to The Wounded Warrior Foundation or The American Heart Association.
Arrangements were entrusted to Nelson Funeral Home and Cremation Service, P.O. Box 1548, Gaylord, MI 49734.


  1. Marty Brackman September 11, 2018 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    I truly loved John as a dear friend. I worked with him for many years and always enjoyed being in his company. I enjoyed our long rides from Boston up to KB toys in Pittsfield, MA. (Wow, that seems like a week ago.)
    Lots of great memories traveling to New England to the many toy fairs, the many dinners and the many sales meetings. Accolades as a sales manager are beyond expression. He was truly a great person, so many laughs, he was the best. Good bye my old friend. I know your in heaven, making Saint Peter laugh. Marty Brackman.

  2. Mona Mustafa September 11, 2018 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    My mentor, my best friend, Johnny B. – taught me more life lessons, and was loved by everyone fortunate enough to know him. I’m sure he’s already received his well deserved pair of new wings. Best “boss” ever! I’m stunned and sad, but happy knowing the times and great memories we shared will live on in the hearts and minds of so many. Save a dance for me at heaven’s craft show, Johnny B.!

  3. Michael Perkins September 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    I worked with John at Craft House and always loved to travel with him. I remember one trip to Walmart where we had to wait for the buyer for an entire week. We went to Sam Walton’s museum, he showed me Sam’s grave, went to a High School football game, he showed me the house that had pigs in it and ate fine meals of rabbit. On the last day at Walmart they were taking pictures for their flower department and throwing out beautiful roses. John filled our rental car with flowers and we gave them to all the ladies in the restaurant. He loved to make people happy and he will be missed. He and his family will be in my prayers.

  4. Gino Conedera September 11, 2018 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    Please accept my deepest condolences. Mr. Bergquist, your life blessed so many and you taught us so much. You truly made the world a better place. Rest easy Sir!!! May God bless you and your entire family!

  5. Tony Valosek September 11, 2018 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    I cannot express the sorrow I feel, by losing one of my closest friends It would be hard to find anyone to say anything different.
    Tony & Pat Valosek

  6. Mike Lynch (TC) September 11, 2018 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Brothers we are, and brothers we will be forever. Too many remarkable “adventures in the book” we have had to reflect on in this forum. Great times are in our hearts and will never-ever be forgotten. So, I hear you got a new sales job now….representing Angels, Inc. Sounds like a pretty good gig! You will do great!… always said you could sell “snow to a snowman”….well now you are representing the big Guy….so to get em JB… I’ll talk to later my brother. TC

  7. Randy Kennie September 12, 2018 at 8:18 am - Reply

    John is one of those people who make the world much emptier when they are not in it. He was a working friend that I feel like I knew all my life. Never sad or upset fpr long. He always had a positive outlook on life. work and the world in general.
    I don’t know any one who will not miss him My prayers and thoughts are with John and my deepest sympathies go out to the family. Rest in Peace John, Rest in Peace.

  8. Chip Purkey September 12, 2018 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Mr. John Bergquist, for those of us who knew him, that name alone says more than a 1000 page novel could. You will be so missed. You have joined the names of those who have preceded you who have blessed me with their impact on my life. George Toteff, Tony Anton, Bob McCloud, Jack Hieman, Ralph Wheeler, Larry Summers, there are so many…. I have been reminiscing of those days, decades ago at the Auburn and Bancroft factory where we first had met. And now, all these years later, we just talked about working on new projects. All have made me who I am today. Thank you John, I love you, your friends, and your family. There is a huge hole in my life that can never be filled.

  9. Brooke Lauber-Cobb September 12, 2018 at 11:26 am - Reply

    My heart aches for your entire family. Mr. Bergquist was larger than life, full of love and the kindest of men. He was a TRUE gentleman. I had the opportunity to work with him while planning Ashlee & Brian’s wedding and I consider myself so lucky to have been a part of a celebration like none other. It was a true treat to see him around his family….his true joys in life, his PURPOSE. You are all in my prayers and have been in my constant thoughts. I am so very, very sorry for your enormous loss.

  10. Daniel Schafer September 12, 2018 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    There as only one Johnny B, and he will truly be missed and remembered everyday. I met John my first month in the Toy business in 1990 and from then on he has been a great friend and mentor to me. I have so many great memories, both work and personal, as he has helped shape me into who I am today. John has touched so many peoples lives in so many ways over the years. Once you met John, you loved him for who he was and he was a friend from that point on. I have friends who met John and from that point on, considered him a friend and would always ask about him or when we all are going get together again. He was so very special. My Thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Bergquist family. I am very sorry for your loss. Rest in Peace John and thank you for being such a great part of my life.

  11. Frank Cimorelli September 12, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    I am heartbroken. I will miss John in so many ways. His humor, warmth, friendship and our long conversations about life, philosophy and our faith in God. John knows God and God knows John. We shared many conversations about our faith in Jesus. Even though I know that John is in heaven, I am sad, I am reminded that it is written, “there is a time to weep and a time to mourn”, even Jesus wept bitterly when he learned of his friend Lazarus death. So I will mourn and cry and miss my brother during my days left on this planet. I will miss him but make no mistake, just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he will also raise John. Save a place for me at the banquet table Johnny. Love you brother. Frankie (fade)

  12. Len Hughes September 12, 2018 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    To my Tubac friend Johnny B , I played golf with JB every August. We would laugh and make little bets playing golf and share stories about our family’s. He would share pictures of his grandchildren and constantly tell me how much he love Diane and his family. The four days we would spend together every year became very important to me. My prayers and love go to John’s family. JB you will be missed.
    Your Tubac brother and friend,

  13. Russell Mason September 12, 2018 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    John was an honorable man, one of the few I have known after 44 years in this business. A man whose word was better than a 100 page contract, a man that always watched out for his clients. The measure of a man is the breadth of his knowledge, the height of his aspirations and the depth of his convictions, by these standards John was one of the few great men in our industry.

  14. Bill Rolinski September 12, 2018 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    There are some guys in high school that you don’t forget. Even though you may not see them for years when you do it was like an instant connection to the past. John B was one of those friends. JB defines what a true friend is and should be. Best to Diane and the family and to say that he will be missed is an understatement.

  15. William Giacci September 13, 2018 at 10:02 am - Reply

    Words can never express the sadness I feel with John’s passing. All who knew him personally and professionally were immediately overwhelmed by his bigger than life personality. When I started at Craft House many moons ago as a marketing manager, he welcomed me with open arms and always an open office. He taught me “the business” from the sales perspective and always made sure that we conducted ourselves with honor and honesty. Our customers were always first. I rose to Sr. VP of Marketing/ R&D, we became inseparable and a force to be reckoned with within the industry.

    After his time with Craft House and shortly after I started Classic Metal Works we again joined forces. We traveled the entire US, Canada and China spending every day together… working, laughing and working some more. From 1997 through 2017 along with my brother Joe, we built Classic Metal Works into something special.

    But I knew another John… the caring and loving man. The man who would take on so many others problems and hardships as if they were his own. I worked and played with John for almost 30 years and he unselfishly made himself available to his family and friends.

    John will forever be in my heart and on my mind. It’s not goodbye, JB… it’s “until I see you again my friend.”

  16. Ray Gilmore September 14, 2018 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    I will truly miss Jonny B. We were truly great friends. Over the years we didn’t see each often but when we did the friendship was always there.

  17. Elsa Schaller September 14, 2018 at 6:48 pm - Reply


  18. Mary Robertson September 14, 2018 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    I truly loved John…as did anyone who knew him. Always the consummate gentleman, with loving hugs and sharp wit!, he was one of a kind! He had the ability to make you feel loved as a family member. He loved his family, his wonderful children, and his precious grandchildren. Diana was the love of his life….always and forever without exception. A truly beautiful unconditional love. I am sure that he died peacefully knowing that she was by his side! Rest in God’s peace Jebby, there will never be another Johnny Evil and the Spirits!!!

  19. Brian Kraby September 15, 2018 at 10:33 am - Reply

    So very shocked and saddened. My thoughts and prayers to your family and many friends…Rest in Peace JB…

  20. The Lublins September 15, 2018 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    I didn’t know John; but he must have been a great guy to raise such a great daughter.

  21. Barbara Steenrod September 16, 2018 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    We met John and his family years ago and our lives intertwined throughout the years. We are saddened to hear of his passing. We send our sympathy. Jerry and Barb Steenrod

  22. Pat Wesley September 16, 2018 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    My deepest condolence on the loss of John. May you all find comfort in all your good memories.
    Pat Wesley

  23. Karen Blakely October 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your husband, father, brother, grandfather and uncle. When you see someone live such a long and fulfilling life, one may wonder why man has to die at all. But be assured, God has given us his personal promise, found in the Bible Revelation 21:4, where God promises us that very soon he will do away with death and sickness from the Earth forever, and then he will resurrect John to perfect life here on Earth, surrounded by family and friends, which has always been God’s purpose for mankind and for the Earth.

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