Rev. John J. Purtell

Father John Purtell, 80, of Dubuque and formerly of Sumner, died Tuesday, November 19, 2013, at Stonehill Care Center in Dubuque.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held 11:00 a.m. Friday, November 22, 2013, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Sumner.  Interment will follow at Calvary Cemetery in New Hampton. Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Thursday, November 21, 2013, at the church where a rosary will be recited at 4:00 p.m. and scripture service held at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday. Visitation will also be held  for one hour preceding services at the church on Friday.  Becker-Milnes Funeral Home in Sumner is assisting Father Purtell’s family. 

John Joseph Purtell, son of John J. Sr. and Lena Salz Purtell, was born January 24, 1933, at Oelwein, Iowa. He graduated from Visitation High School at Stacyville and Loras College in Dubuque. Following military service, he taught school at Turkey Valley. He later graduated from Mount Saint Bernard Seminary in Dubuque and was ordained June 1, 1968, at St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque by the Most Rev. J.J. Byrne.

Father Purtell served many parishes in northeast Iowa: Sacred Heart in Oelwein, St. Paul’s in Worthington, St. Patrick’s in Waukon, St. John the Baptist in Westridge, St. Joseph’s and Marquette High School in Bellevue, St. Anthony in Dubuque, St. Patrick’s in Monti, All Saints in Rowley, Immaculate Conception in Sumner, St. Francis Xavier in Hawkeye, and St. Francis of Assisi in Fayette. He also served as part-time chaplain at the Mental Health Institute in Independence.

Father John is survived by one brother, James Purtell of Marion; and one sister, Patricia Schrage of Cresco.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two sisters, Mary and Sister Nora Purtell; and one brother, Rev. Thomas Purtell.


Shirley Black on December 13, 2013 at 7:20 PM said:

Father Purtell was a wonderful priest. He came to our home in Bellevue many times and married myself and my late husband in the Church. I saw him a few months ago at the doctor's office in Dubuque. May he rest in God's peace
Jane Blazek on November 24, 2013 at 2:50 AM said:

My sincerest sympathies to the Purtell family. I met Father Purtell for the first time when he was not yet a priest and he was selling World Book Encyclopedias as a summer job. I think I was entering first grade. He was my brothers' Latin teacher at Turkey Valley the following several years and then entered the priesthood. When he was a chaplain in the New Hampton hospital, he gave the last Sacrament to my Dad after surgery. He then came to Dad's visitation. I thought he did not have to do that, but he was such a kind and considerate man. It really touched all of us that he took the time to do that when we were not even in his parish. May he find eternal peace.
Glen Gassman on November 22, 2013 at 3:16 PM said:

Fr. Purtell was my Jr. High Religion teacher and at the time it was a love-hate relationship. As I progressed through high school and beyond, he became a dear friend and sounding board for me as I struggled with my faith. No matter how far I strayed from the Church he never judged. I could not have asked for a more perfect moral compass and I am a better person for having known him. Fair winds and following seas, Shipmate.
Anonymous on November 21, 2013 at 12:43 PM said:

Fr. Purtell was a kind, holy man. I enjoyed my years of working with him as DRE. He would regularly visit the religion classes and answer questions or give some instruction. When my mother was in the nursing home, where Father would daily visit his brother, he would offer mother a blessing with the holy water that he carried in his pocket. Mom was a non-Catholic but she accepted and appreciated every blessing he gave her...which were many. And, I very much appreciated his blessings for her too! I will miss him. I pray he is now reunited with his brother Fr. Tom.

Barb Hennessey
Norb Mary Gansen Four Seasons For LIFE F"Burg on November 21, 2013 at 10:56 AM said:

Father John was a very strong supporter defender of LIFE spiritually and physically. He was very involved with Four Season For LIFE.He will be sadly missed by all but will always be in our prayers and memories.
Diane Zabel on November 20, 2013 at 2:42 PM said:

I am so sorry to hear of Fr. Purtell's death. When he was here in Sumner, we would see him drive by in his little blue car, and pretty soon he was going back into town.

I enjoyed his stories immensely when I would go in to collect the work for the bulletin. I will surely miss him.

Becker-Milnes Funeral Home

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