Cover photo for John E. Van Winkle's Obituary
John E. Van Winkle Profile Photo
1945 John Van Winkle 2024

John E. Van Winkle

April 20, 1945 — January 14, 2024

John E. Van Winkle, 78, of Farwell, NE died on Sunday, January 14, 2024 at his home.

Visitation for John will be from 1 to 3 PM on Saturday, January 20, 2024 at Apfel Funeral Home in Wood River, NE. A celebration of life will follow at the Wood River American Legion. Burial of ashes will be at a later date in the Wood River Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make memorials out to the family for later designation. Apfel Funeral Home is assisting the family. 

John was born on April 20, 1945 to Harold and Grace (Henderson) Van Winkle in Grand Island, NE. He grew up in Wood River and graduated from Wood River High School.

He entered the Army on March 9, 1966 and was honorably discharged from the Special Forces as a Green Beret on May 8, 1969. After his time in the service, he was employed at New Holland until his retirement. 

John and Renee met in February of 1981 and were united in marriage in October of 1981. They enjoyed 42 years together.
He was a great father, grandfather and uncle to his own family and many people outside of that. John touched so many lives with his sense of humor. He made friends everywhere he went. He would always leave you laughing and you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth. John would also tell Renee he “Needs to find out what’s going on” and head to St. Paul U-Betcha, Aurora Coop in Dannebrog and Farwell Bar to BS and hangout for hours. Other times he would say “we need to check cattle or deer” and take his dog Gus for a ride. Gus and John always liked to check out Little Sherman. 

John loved sports and watching his grandchildren play sports. He would go to games, eat his popcorn and Pepsi and give people a hard time that walked by. During baseball season you could always see him in a DCB baseball hat cheering on the boys. During football season his hat would shift to his Nebraska hat. He loved collecting hats and going camping. He didn’t need to go far but loved to sit around and talk with friends and family. John was a person you could count on and would do anything for anybody. He was a member of the Dannebrog American Legion Post 241 and the American Legion Riders Post 119. 

He is survived by his wife, Renee Van Winkle; eight children, Troy (Judy) Van Winkle, Trina Reeg, Robby (Melissa) Powers, Cory (Kellie) Van Winkle, Resa (Chris) Lavicky, Renita (Brian) Gorecki, Cody (Crystal) Van Winkle and Toby (Hillary) Van Winkle; 26 grandchildren: Morgan, Marley, Dusty, Tiana, Adrianna, Matt, Brett, Steven, Megan, Max, Kasey, Dolcey, Dagen, Noah, Bryce, Mason, Calvin, Delano, Katalina, Shane, Gracelyn, Evelyn, Carter, and Makenna; ten great grandchildren; and his siblings, Tom (Judy) Van Winkle, and Grace Ann Oliver.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Harold, Fred, Billy and James, and grandchildren, Kayla Christine and Ashleigh.

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

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, January 20, 2024

1:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

Apfel Funeral Home - Wood River

411 W 11th St, Wood River, NE 68883

Celebration of Life will follow the visitation at the Wood River American Legion Hall.

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