John Sletten
August 28, 1932 - September 8, 2020

John Sletten

John Sletten
Aug 28, 1932 - Sep 8, 2020

John Sletten
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John Sletten, age 88, of Ames, Iowa passed away peacefully at Israel Family Hospice House in Ames on September 8, 2020. A celebration of life memorial service will be 10:00 a.m., September 15, 2020 at Ames High School Stadium on the 50-yard line. Face coverings will be required with social distancing encouraged. The family encourages you to park in the new parking spaces east of the stadium.

John was born August 28, 1932 in Northfield MN, the son of Oliver and Clara Sletten. He graduated from Northfield High School in 1950 where he was active in band, choir, track, football, basketball, and was editor of the school paper. After high school, John continued his education and participation in athletics at Saint Olaf College, where he was a three-year letter winner in track, graduating in 1954. He also later earned a master's degree from University of Minnesota in administration. John served in the US Army and was stationed in Germany for 18 months. He returned to Faribault, MN where he taught junior high school English. While teaching in Faribault, John met and later married Elizabeth Head on June 21, 1958. The couple made their home in Northfield where they had their three children, Anne, Margit and Lise. In Northfield, John taught high school English and was head track and cross-country coach. In 1969, John moved his young family to Ames where he continued to teach high school English and coach track and cross-country until retirement. John's coaching resume includes 9 state track championships and 4 state cross country championships. John was president of Iowa Track Coaches Association, was elected into the Hall of Fame in Northfield and in Ames and was named National Coach of the Year in 1990.

While coaching track was a lifelong passion, John also enjoyed time with his family, Bethesda Lutheran Church activities and friends, travelling, studying history, daily coffee with his Hy-Vee buddies, attending Iowa State sporting events and his daily 2-mile walks.

John is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Sletten of Ames; daughters, Anne Sletten of Johnston, Margit (Doug) Ross of Johnston, and Lise Rollins of Ames; grandchildren, Jennifer Ross of Minneapolis, MN, Brian Ross of Bozeman, MT, Sarah Ross of Chicago, IL, and Hannah and Halley Rollins of Ames; sister, Janet Wilson of Eagan, MN and several nieces and nephews.

John was preceded in death by his parents and a son-in-law, Don Rollins.

John will be greatly missed by all who loved him.

Memorials may be directed to: Bethesda Lutheran Church - Capital Campaign Fund or the Ames High Track Team.

Online condolences may be directed to:

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Ross Miller on Nov 2, 2020

Coach Sletten had a bigger influence on my life than anyone other than my own parents. I would bet most of his former athletes would say the same. I'm sad he's no longer physically with us but happy that he'll always be with me and with the thousands of other young people he inspired, motivating us to always do our best and try our hardest.

Brent Antisdel on Sep 15, 2020

To the Sletten family words cannot encapsulate my grief your loss. I apologize for finding out so late and missing the Celebration of Life. Coach was one of the greatest influences in my life. His direct and honest mentoring in the classroom and on the track made any of us who graced his presence a better person. One of my life’s regrets is not winning another team championship for him during my time at Ames High School, coming close twice as runner-up. Knowing coach he would pishah that notion knowing we gave our best. I will truly miss him.

Charles Grim on Sep 15, 2020

I've had the honor of knowing John for a long time. First as a Marshalltown athlete competing against Ames, and then, more recently, having my children come through Ames and run for the Ames track program. I have always been impressed with his coaching, teaching and attitude toward the kids. He will be sorely missed. Thank you Coach Sletten.

Mary Kay Polashek on Sep 14, 2020

I'm sorry for you loss of John. He was always so friendly to me as a new comer on the AHS staff. At my first Staff meeting in the Fall of 1987 in the old library up on the second floor, they said I was a St. Olaf grad and from the back of the room came a loud "Um! Yah! Yah!" John made me feel welcome right away. He said that every time he saw me. May he rest in Peace.

Jeff Burris on Sep 14, 2020

Liz and Family:

I am so sorry for the passing of John this past week. As you know I was truly blessed over the past three plus years to really get to know him more as a person compared to our Coach-Athlete relationship during my days competing for Ames High. It was his love for family, country and teaching/coaching that truly came out as a result of our conversations. While many may remember Coach for what he accomplished on the athletic field it was his character and integrity that made him truly a person worth knowing in this world. I will be forever grateful God placed Coach in my life for those four years while at Ames High and for all the other young men and women whose lives were impacted in both big and small ways as he truly made this world a better place.

Jeff Burris- '85

Keith Bailey on Sep 13, 2020

I am so sorry for your loss. John was a friend. We shared many conversations while teaching and renewed some of them following retirement at Hy-Vee. He will be missed.
Sincere best regards, Keith Bailey

Jane Enfield on Sep 13, 2020

Mr. Sletten was my favorite teacher! One memory that always makes my smile is the time he got up from his desk, walked to the back row of desks and without skipping a word of what he was saying, promptly put tape over my mouth! It was deserved! Great guy and wonderful man!

Pat James on Sep 12, 2020

Mr. Sletten was one of my favorite teachers, and one of the best teachers I ever had. His classes at Northfield High School were challenging and fun, and in me they fostered a life-long love of writing.

Paul and Ruth Hauge on Sep 12, 2020

Liz- We are pleaded to send our condolences to you and your family for a long time friend and will send a contribution to St. Olaf in his honor- our love to all. Ruth and Paul Hauge- Paul- STO- 1954

Emmett and Mary Stevermer on Sep 12, 2020

We are sorry to hear of John's passing. He leaves so many memories for students and families. Track and Cross Country provided opportunities for so many young people to find success in many ways thanks to his coaching and encouragement. He will be missed but remembered by many. We will keep all your family in our thoughts and prayers.
Emmett and Mary Stevermer Family

Eric Bundgaard on Sep 11, 2020

We are very sorry to hear of John's passing. Our condolences to the entire Sletten family. John was a great coach, teacher and human being. Before his long and storied tenure at Ames, he had a positive influence and much success in teaching and coaching at Northfield High School. His was a life well lived.
Eric and Denise Bundgaard

Heinz Moesler on Sep 11, 2020

John was my cross country and track coach 1962-1966. He taught me that hard work would not only make me a better athlete but also a better person. Thank you. Heinz Moesler

Leo Milleman on Sep 11, 2020

Our sympathies to the entire Sletten family and your many friends and comrades. Ouch! John meant a great deal to our family— chlildren and parents. Thank you to John and all of you for being a special part of our lives. God bless. Leo/Jane Milleman and Mark, Katie, and John.

Jean Nicol Jahren on Sep 11, 2020

I had the privilege to sit in front of John in the Bethesda Choir and hear his beautiful bass singing. I'm sure that he is singing in a new and better place. Prayers for the family. Jean Nicol Jahren

mike bergan on Sep 10, 2020

Our prayers and thoughts to all the Sletton family. Coach Sletton was such a class act and I am so appreciative of his influence on and off the track. He had high expectations for all his runners and cared about each one them. He never played favorites and was always pushing us to be tough and be the best we could be. So many memories of him as a young boy in summer track and Hershey meets...all the way through high school. He will be missed greatly. Continued prayers during this difficult time. -Mike Bergan '91.

John Grier on Sep 10, 2020

John Sletten was my 8th grade English teacher. I was a member of his first track. John allowed me the chance to earn a spot on the varsity team. He was my coach for 5 years and my friend for 62 years. He taught me,coached me, mentored me, and instilled a work ethic. His life lesson was simple, perpare,and perform to the best of your ability. He will be missed but never forgotten by all of us who knew and loved him.

Greg Prestemon on Sep 10, 2020

I am so sorry to hear about Coach Sletten’s passing and I want to express my condolences to all of his friends and especially to Elizabeth, Anne, Margit and Lise. I am confident that John was an excellent father, husband and friend. That is certainly his most important legacy. As a coach, he had a great eye for track and field talent, always seeming to put the right athlete in the right event at the right time. He was always encouraging, often blunt, and set standards of excellence for all of us. I know that he took real joy from watching his athletes improve. I will miss him! Again, my condolences.

Greg Prestemon, Class of 75

Marianne Chalstrom on Sep 10, 2020

John and his family were very precious in our church lives at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Ames. Liz and John sang in the choir for many years. I can picture in my head still and hear John in the back row and his sense of humor. He was a dedicated man in teaching and bringing out the best in his students and athletes. Marianne Chalstrom

Carol Cox Payne on Sep 10, 2020

Two of our sons benefitted from Coach Sletten's mentorship. He was a gifted coach and was able to know how to motivate and find the place that was best suited for their talents. Tom graduated in 1994 and Greg in 2001 from Ames High. Tom really wanted to be a sprinter but Coach Sletten found Tom a niche on the 400's and 800's fortunately. Greg's success was with the 400 hurdles.
One fun memory was going to Northfield for a track meet. Other special memories include the state track meets and the Drake relays.
Both had great experiences under Coach Sletten. Paul and I enjoyed helping at the meets as well as spending time with Liz in the stands. Paul and I extend our sympathy to the Sletten family. Carol Cox Payne

Keith Covey on Sep 10, 2020

We were sorry to read of John's passing. He was a successful coach and good teacher on the track and in the classroom. But most of all he was a good person. Keith Covey, Northfield, MN

Karen Bergan on Sep 10, 2020

Liz and family,
Karen and I were saddened by the news of John’s passing. Both of us had great admiration for John and we enjoyed following AHS Track and Field. We have many special memories of the years our two sons ran Cross Country and Track at Ames High. He was a great role model for all of his students and athletes. He set high expectations...and that carried over to his students and athletes. His program, year in and year out, was second to none! John left a great legacy to hundreds/thousands of young men!
Our prayers are with you and your family. Bill & Karen Bergan

Luke D. Guthrie on Sep 10, 2020

It is hard to put into words the impact Coach Sletten has had on my life. Even though I graduated from Ames High over 20 years ago, I still run and think about Coach Sletten and what he taught me daily. His philosophy was simple: Always do your best. Always do your best, whether it is on the track or cross country course, in the classroom, in your personal life, or career. If you do your very best in everything you do, that is something to be proud of and all anyone can ask of you regardless of the outcome. Coach will be greatly missed, but his legacy will never be forgotten.

When I go out and run today in the rain, I know he will be with me every step of the way.

Mary Christy on Sep 10, 2020

Liz and Lise,
We wanted to let you know that you are in our hearts. Losing someone so special is always difficult. While we didn't know John, we are aware that he touched many lives and was a huge influence on those he taught and coached. All the more reason why he will be missed. Thank you both for all that you did to help Adam through the years. Obviously, compassion and kindness runs in the family. Peace be with you. Adam, Mary and Alan Christy

Sally Shaver DuBois on Sep 10, 2020

So sorry for your loss Sletten family! Coach Sletten was an Ames High legend & shared his coaching gifts with so many young people. I also got a chuckle out of his Hy-Vee coaching group that I often saw during breakfast/coffee time in recent years. Prayers for you all!
Sally Shaver DuBois

Tom Joensen on Sep 10, 2020

My thoughts and prayers with the whole Sletten family. Mr. Sletten was and is one of the most important influences in my life. From ice cream socials at the park, to years of summer track, to winning state championships, to a nice talk about it all as we watched my son at a meet in Ames within the last few years. Many great inspirational quotes - the one I share with many people - Everyone admires the cross country runner who charges up the hill ... John liked the ones who got to the top and kept charging.

Chris Rasmussen on Sep 10, 2020

Coach Sletten was a good coach--he was an old school, no-nonsense coach, who enabled us to improve as runners. I remember fondly the camaraderie on the Ames High cross country and track teams. Coach Sletten will be missed, but he will long be remembered.

Denise Anderson on Sep 10, 2020

Rest in Paradise Coach.

Barbara Deppe on Sep 9, 2020

I am so thankful for all that Mr. Sletten gave to the girl's cross country team that he nurtured from the beginning. My sister, Sue, was the spark and he gave freely of his time and energy. All the best to his family.

Ken Talbert on Sep 9, 2020

A prince of a man. I always enjoyed John's company. I am grateful our paths crossed. I wish the family well as they deal with his passing.

Marti Steelman on Sep 9, 2020

The world has lost another from the greatest generation. When I think of John I can hear him recite the Winners Creed at the Ames High School boys cross country and track banquets. John was quiet, funny and knew how to bring out the best in the students he taught and the athletes he coached. They had such respect for John that they did not and would not let him down. From year to year the tradition was not if the team would make it to state it was always the team will make it to state. The boys stayed friends with John beyond high school. I cannot begin to guess the number of weddings John and Liz must have attended for former student athletes. My heart goes out John's family. All of us who knew John were blessed. To John's former student athletes, he inspired you to be better than you thought you could be and now it is your turn to inspire the next generation.

Tim and Deanna Bell on Sep 9, 2020

May the family of Tim Bell and the entire Marshalltown Bobcat Cross Country and Track programs express the deepest sympathy for the loss of John. Even though John was a strong competitor against the Bobcats he was, and will always be highly respected. Johns compassion for developing young men and getting them to do more than what they thought possible was a inspiration to all coaches that competed against and with him. Our feelings reach out to Liz and the family and rest assured, he is leading the track team in Heaven. God Bless John, as he is Smiling above us all!



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Ames High School Football/Track Stadium
1921 Ames High Drive
Ames, IA, United States 50010
10:00 AM

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