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John Klasen III remembered as 'the foundation of his family' after tragic ice fishing accident

John Klasen III died tragically last week after his vehicle fell through the Lake Bemidji ice while out fishing with his longtime partner Marcy Binkley on Christmas Eve.

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John Klasen III died tragically last week after his vehicle fell through the Lake Bemidji ice while out fishing with his long-time partner Marcy Binkley on Christmas Eve. Contributed
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BEMIDJI -- John Klasen III died tragically last week after his vehicle fell through the Lake Bemidji ice while out fishing with his longtime partner Marcy Binkley on Christmas Eve.

Local emergency personnel responded around 5 p.m. on Dec. 24 to a report that a vehicle had fallen through the ice with two people in the water near the 1700 block of Birchmont Drive NE, just off the shoreline of Diamond Point Park.

Upon arrival, rescue personnel found that Brinkley had been able to get out of the water on her own and was immediately transported to the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center for treatment. Meanwhile, Klasen had to be rescued from the vehicle in the water by a Bemidji firefighter wearing a cold water immersion suit and Beltrami County deputies.

At the time, deputies estimated that the ice was about 4-5 inches deep where the vehicle broke through.

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Barricades surround a hole in the ice near Diamond Point Park on Sunday morning, Dec. 26, 2021, after a vehicle broke through Lake Bemidji on Friday evening. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

Klasen was then transported by ambulance to Sanford Bemidji where life-saving efforts were performed. He was later transported to the Sanford hospital in Fargo where he died late Friday evening.

According to his obituary , Klasen, 69, was born and raised in Bemidji and loved the outdoors. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and later was a millwright in autobody work from which he retired to do what he loved best: hunting, fishing, riding his Harley and working on his cars.

The obituary describes him as "a loving and supportive father, son and grandfather. His knowledge and guidance were the foundation of his family and he will be forever missed."

He was survived by his life partner Marcella Binkley of Bemidji, father John Klasen Jr. of Bemidji, sons Michael Sherman of Bemidji, John H. Klasen IV of Bemidji, Christopher Klasen of Bemidji, daughters Lillie (Gene) Olson of Bemidji, Sharon (Jim) Dixon of Bemidji and Twila (Luke) Jesso of Coon Rapids. Brothers Mike Klasen of Bemidji, Kelly (Nadene) Klasen of Solway, Terry Klasen of Bemidji, Martin William “Bill” (Jenny) Klasen of St. Cloud.

John was preceded in death by his mother Carolee “Sally” Klasen, sister Carolee Molash; and a son-in-law, Walter “Pat” Molash, brother Delbert Klasen.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 30, at Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home in Bemidji. Visitation will continue at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 31, with funeral services starting at 10:30 a.m. at the funeral home.

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Related Topics: BEMIDJI NEWSLETTER
Annalise is the editor and a photographer at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is a Mass Communication graduate from Bemidji State University. Her favorite pastime is exploring the great outdoors and capturing its natural beauty on camera. Contact Annalise at (218) 333-9796, (218) 358-1990 or abraught@bemidjipioneer.com.
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