Cover photo for Dr. John Bentley Lunseth's Obituary
Dr. John Bentley Lunseth Profile Photo
1927 Dr. John 2022

Dr. John Bentley Lunseth

October 22, 1927 — December 12, 2022

Rush City

Dr. John Lunseth of Rush City passed away on Monday, December 12, 2022 at Hometown Senior Living in Woodbury at the age of 95.

John Bentley Lunseth was born October 22, 1927 to Oscar and Sophia (Bentley) Lunseth in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

John graduated from Central High School in Grand Forks in 1944. He served in the United States Army from March 1946 to July 1949 as a First Lieutenant. He was an administrative officer in the Medical Corp of the Army of Occupation in Japan from 1948-1949 where his eldest son, John B. Lunseth II, was born. After returning from Japan, John earned his Bachelor of Science in medicine from the University of North Dakota in 1952 and his Doctor of Medicine from Harvard University in 1954. He did his internship and residency at the University of Minnesota and at the Minneapolis VA Hospital. He earned his Ph.D. in Surgery from the University of Minnesota in 1966. He was a Clinical Investigator in Surgery at the VA Hospital from 1965-1967. He opened a practice with a partner as St. Paul Cardiovascular Associates, his principal hospital being Miller in St. Paul but also all other hospitals in St. Paul and the surrounding area as needed. He spent 11 years practicing in Cambridge, Mora and Chisago Lakes, MN.

John decided to be a physician at nine years of age and spent his life healing and helping others. He was a member of the group of physicians at the University of Minnesota under Dr. Owen Wangensteen that pioneered open heart surgery. He was a pioneer in coronary bypass surgery. In the course of his career he performed over 1,000 open heart surgeries, saving many lives. He implanted Rush City Hospital’s first pacemaker. He was also a researcher and at one time was the world’s foremost authority on human pepsin.

John went to high school at Central High in Grand Forks. There he met and fell in love with Cleone Beverly Nasset. They both graduated early, John at 16 and Cleone at 17. They married in 1946. During the summer in the 1950s John worked at the Clearwater County Hospital in Bagley, MN, where Cleone’s parents lived. They spent a summer running the boat and motor rentals at Itasca State Park and living in a cabin, with raccoons fighting under the floor at night. They moved from Bagley to St. Paul in 1954, while John completed his internship at the University of Minnesota. They initially lived in married student housing consisting of war-surplus corrugated metal buildings, two families to a building, near the St. Paul Farm Campus of the University of Minnesota. They subsequently moved to more comfortable quarters in St. Anthony Park. They had four more children, Steven and Mark, both born in Grand Forks, ND, and Michele and Susan, born in St. Paul. Cleone passed away in September, 1977.

Despite his medical career and accomplishments John was a devoted father. He worked on projects with all his children teaching them to be meticulous and to put his tools back where they found them. Sunday dinner with the whole family around the home table at St. Anthony Park was a weekly delight. His boys liked to hunt and fish with family in northern Minnesota. Every weekend in the fall John would come home from work to find the duck boats loaded up and packed with decoys, ready for the trip to Bagley.

After Cleone’s death John married Mary Ann Hunter, an operating room nurse. They made their home in St. Paul for a time, then at a beautiful lake home near Stanchfield, MN, and then in Rush City. Their combined family included the five Lunseth children and also Cathy Dockendorf, Steven Hunter, James Hunter, and Jean Lawson. Mary Ann passed away in October 2016. John was married to Cleone for 31 years until her death, and then to Mary Ann for a month shy of 39 years. In all he was married for 70 years.

John was an avid reader and loved crossword puzzles, sports, and travel. He particularly loved a cruise he took along the coast of Norway. It included a stop in Molde and in Lønset, Norway, where his grandfather, Johann Arndt Lunseth was from.

John is survived by his children John B. Lunseth II of Medina, Steven Lunseth of Grand Forks, Mark (Susan) Lunseth of Champlin, Michele Oelrich of Bemidji, Susan Ebertz of Woodbury; step-children Cathy Dockendorf of Hudson, Wisconsin, Steven (Shelley) Hunter of Monroe, Ohio, James (Barbara) Hunter of St. Petersburg, Florida, Jean Lawson of Orange, California; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents Oscar and Sophia Lunseth; sisters Louanna (Johnny) White, Lois (Bob) Lee; his first wife Cleone, second wife Mary Ann.

Father Matt Shireman will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial for John: 11 AM; Saturday, December 17, 2022 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rush City.  A time of visitation will be held one hour prior to the Mass at the church.  The interment will take place in Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Rush City.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be direct to: 
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
P.O. Box 45
Rush City, MN 55069-0045

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the Funeral and Cremation Service, Rush City, Olson Chapel

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

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, December 17, 2022

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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Saturday, December 17, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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