John Eliason Sr., owner and operator of Eliason Lum­ber and Hardware in Sayner, Wis., passed away in Marshfield at the Marshfield Medical Center on March 19, 2021, with his daughter, Jona, at his side. He was 88 years old. 

John Sr. was born in Rhinelander, Wis., in 1932, to Carl and Esther Eliason of Sayner, where he lived and worked in their family business for the entirety of his life.

John attended grade school in Sayner, high school in Eagle River, Wis., and Northland College in Ashland, Wis., where he met his wife, Georgia Rader. They were married in 1955, and raised two children, John Jr. and Jona. 

John Sr. spent his early life living and working in all aspects of his family’s general store in Sayner. In 1965, the family sold the general store and built Eliason Lumber on the adjacent property.

It was here that John Sr. found his true calling, which was providing quality products and service to building materials customers.

Throughout his career he helped countless contractors start and grow their businesses and will be remembered for his friendly demeanor, unequaled customer service, knowledge and expertise.

John Sr. was instrumental in founding and serving in many local service organizations and was highly regarded as a local historian.

He served many years on the board of directors of the Vilas Historical Museum and enjoyed sharing his knowledge and stories about local history. 

In his early and midlife John Sr. liked to hunt, fish, golf, ski and play tennis. He was especially adept at table tennis.

As the son of Carl Eliason, the inventor of the modern snowmobile, John Sr. began snowmobiling at an early age, and was a charter member of the Barnstormers Snowmobile Club. He also was involved in the Mus-Ski Mountain Ski Hill in the 1960s. 

In his later years John Sr. enjoyed spending time with family, friends, customers and his dog. He loved plowing snow, processing firewood and working at his home and business.

John Sr. survived open- heart surgery and colon cancer, and remained active in all aspects of his life up to the time he suffered the massive stroke which ultimately took his life. 

John Eliason Sr. was preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Esther Eliason of Sayner; his wife and longtime companion, Georgia Eliason; and his sister-in-law, Dorothy Linder.

He is survived by his two children, John Eliason Jr. and Jona Eliason of Sayner; his brother-in-law, Ben Rader (Kathy) of Burlington; his large extended family; many friends; and his beloved dog, Ole. 

A Memorial Gathering will be held at the Plum Lake Community Center and Pavilion in Sayner on April 17, 2021, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a Memorial Service and burial to follow.

Memorials may be made to Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church, Plum Lake EMS or Vilas Historical Museum.

Arrangements by Gaff­ney-Busha Funeral Home, Eagle River. Online condolences may be expressed at