John Noah

john noah

John Michael Noah, 87-year-old husband, father, grandfather, mentor and inspiration passed away at the Villa Maria in Fargo, North Dakota on Thursday, September 3, 2015.

John M. Noah was born November 21, 1927 to Lebanese immigrants, Michael and Christine Noah, and grew up in Crookston, Minnesota. Though from humble beginnings, John’s proud family instilled a strong moral code and a deep level of human compassion. John was known for his gift with people, and was appreciated for his unbridled enthusiasm and zest for life.

A gifted athlete, John lettered in both hockey and football at Crookston Cathedral High School and he was honored as an All-City and All-State football player. He played in the Minnesota North-South Football All-Star Game in 1946. He played 4 years of varsity hockey for the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux; starting off with a $2.00 pair of skates.

He enjoyed a tremendous amount of success at the University of North Dakota. Though he had been drafted by NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, he decided to continue with his education and became the first to letter all four years at UND–playing all positions except goalie. In 1951 he was named as a first team All-American; the first All-American in UND’s hockey history. That same year he and his team, the Crookston Pirates, won the US Amateur Hockey Championship. John played defense for the Silver Medal-winning US hockey team in the 1952 Winter Olympic Games in Oslo, Norway.

John met the love of his life Mary (Kelly) Noah at a hockey game. They married in 1956, started a family in Grand Forks and moved to Fargo, ND where they raised their eight children. Service was a large part of John’s life. He served in the United States Army, in charitable organizations, as a member of the Fargo Park Board and in youth sports. He served his family with unwavering devotion, and most vital to him, he served the Lord. John and Mary were participants and founding members of numerous Catholic and Christian organizations and staunchly supported pro-life causes. John also served the community as the Chief Federal Probation Officer for North Dakota, Director of the Civic Auditorium, and in retirement, as one of the best limo drivers in town. One of his missions in life was to spend time teaching the youth in the community through sports, believing that if they were positively occupied participating in sports, not only would they stay clear of trouble, they would also learn to be good citizens. He established the first youth hockey traveling teams in Fargo, the Fargo Scheels teams, which competed at all levels and along with his brother, Fr. Timothy Noah, started the varsity hockey program at Shanley High School in the early 1960’s. John’s big heart and knack for relating with others led him to make meaningful connections with people from all walks of life, and with a twinkle in his eye, he bridged those relationships to gain opportunities for all kids across the area, particularly those most in need. He loved serving others.

And although John received numerous hockey honors, including induction into the UND Hall of Fame and the North Dakota Hall of Fame, and nominations for the US Hockey Hall of Fame; he was most honored by the titles “Husband,” “Father” and “Grampie.”

He is survived by his wife Mary, Fargo, ND; seven sons and one daughter, Matthew (Susan) Noah and their children, Joseph, Benjamin, Michael, Luke, Gabriel, Peter and Katherine; Lisa (Michael) Harvey and their children, Noah, Samuel, Jacob and John; David (Carla) Noah and their daughter, Rachel; Paul (Geneva) Noah and their children Bergen, Gianna and Jude; Mark (Gretchen) Noah and their children Margaret, Kelly, Mary, Mark and Katherine; Dr. Thomas (Kim) Noah and their daughters, Ellie, Sara and Drew; Andrew Noah; and Christopher Noah and his daughter, Riley; as well as several beloved nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by brothers, Joseph Noah, Rev. Daniel Noah and Rev. Timothy Noah; sisters, Mary Noah, Veronica Horton, Lucille Pierce, Grace Tiedemann, Catherine Noah, Mary Ann Noah and Patricia Noah, as well as other loved ones.

Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m., with a prayer service at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8, at Boulger Funeral Home in Fargo. Visitation will continue from 10-11 a.m., followed by the funeral Mass at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9, at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Fargo.

Special thanks to the staff at the Villa Maria for their care and compassion. Memorial donations in memory of John may be made to the St. John Paul II Catholic Schools, Fargo, ND.

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  1. Sorry to hear about John. My mom and dad, Rudy and Myrtle Christianson lived across the street at 1519 11th Avenue South, Fargo. John was a good man. Always enjoyed visiting with John. May God bless you all.

  2. Our thoughts and prays go out to you, Mary and your family. We are thinking of you guys and thinking of the good times we had together on the hockey trips and other adventures we took.
    May God be with you at this difficult time.
    We will see you soon. Take care now.

    Love Bill and Sharon

  3. Our families have know each other for nearly half a century and it was truly a treat to part of it. We will all miss John but will have great memories to reflect on. His wit and big smile will be remembered by all of us. Our condolences go out to Mary, children and all his grandchildren. What a legacy to leave behind!!!

  4. I worked for John setting up and taking down events when I was in high school and college. It was always a good experience. I saw him on and off for many years. He always stopped to chat and ask about my family. Let perpetual light shine upon him.

  5. My deepest sympathy to all of the John Noah family.

    My connection with John dates back to when I was a hockey player at Fargo Central in the early 1960’s. John started a program at Shanley and gave many young men the opportunity to play the game. In later years, I even played a game for the Fargo Blazers against the Detroit Lakes amateur team on which John played. He was quite a bit older than everyone else on the ice, but he could hold his own and demonstrated why he was such an outstanding player in his earlier days.

    Hockey in North Dakota, and in the Fargo area in particular, was extremely lucky to have such a man involved with the sport.

    May he rest in peace.

  6. Sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Noah my family lived by the Noahs for many years. Thinking of all of you at this time.
    Tammy Kenney

  7. Jerry and I were privileged to live in Fargo for 34 years and to know John and Mary and family through
    our children at Shanley High School. John was a “larger than life” figure and he and Mary and their children
    were special friends to many Ruff offspring. My prayers are with the family as they miss John’s presence but
    rejoice in knowing a heavenly reunion awaits them all.

    Mary Kay Ruff
    Maple Grove, MN

  8. Our sincere sympathy goes out to you and your family. John was a stable force in the community and our hockey world. We remember him fondly.

  9. To Mary Noah & family,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you in the loss of Mr. Johnny Noah. My parents, brothers & sisters adored him and we were all lucky to know him. Peace to all of you.

    Sincerely, Sheila Foss

  10. Heaven has gained the exuberant spirit that God graced to John. May all the Noah family feel the love of all the lives that Johnny touched. His legacy is large and he lives on through many. God bless you, Mary, Matt, Lisa, Dave, Paul, Mark, Tom, Andrew, Chris and all your families.

  11. I met John Noah in 1973 at one of the Fargo Raiders Hockey games outside. We became friends and saw each other at most of hockey games. Later on when I was on the City Commission, I invited John to head the City Buildings and Grounds including managing the Fargo Auditorium.

    John was a great guy with a great sense of respect for everyone he was in touch with. As an Olympian Hockey Player, John is credited with the youth hockey program in Fargo. He spent many hours to organize and implement youth hockey in the Fargo-Moorhead first and later on he also helped other towns in ND and Western Minnesota. John had a special knacks for solving problems for the City of Fargo. He did it with ease and dedication.

    Fargo lost a good man.

    Our condolences go to his wife, Mary and his children.

    Mort and Sharon Mazaheri

  12. Dear Noah’s you all are in my thoughts and prayers in Johnny’s death. May he have eternal peace and joy with our loving God. His legacy of faith, love and service will continue to live on in all of you. Hr lived and loved life and hockey along with a commitment to live his faith and build the Kingdom as a loving husband, father and grandfather.
    Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. Fr. Tim Bushy

  13. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary and the wonderful Noah family. John was one of a kind, and I admired him greatly. His generosity included allowing me to wear his 1952 Olympic jacket when I dropped the puck at the law school international tournament back in the nineties. Rest in Peace.

  14. Thinking and Prayers to the Noah Family… Love, Itts Williams Family and Phyllis (Savageau) Williams

  15. John was a great man and will be remembered by many people in Fargo. My sons had the pleasure of playing for John and I’ll never forget him shouting from the bench SHOOT, SHOOT.
    Our sincere sympathy goes out to Mary and families his remarkable legacy will linger on.

  16. Our family has many great memories of John and Mary Noah and their family. Scouts, and Church activities were made more fun by John’s enthusiastic way and smile. God Bless and keep John in His loving arms, and bless all of his family during this time of sorrow.

  17. I will always remember John Noah as a positive influence in my life. I am a better person to have known him and am proud to call all of the Noah family, friends. Take care and rest assured God has a place set aside and has welcomed him with open arms and the same broad smile John always displayed.

  18. Growing up in Crookston, John was a hero to me. I loved watching him play defense for the Pirates. He never ever got into a fight. He always held them back and just smiled. One of Johns greatest quotes in Crookston was his answer to someone who offered him a cigarette. “No thanks I just had a rotten apple”

    Jerry Baril
    Murrieta, Ca

  19. It was the fall of 1950. I was a freshman at UND; a green college student fresh out of a tiny class in a tiny North Dakota town. This whole college thing was a mystery to me.

    And of course I didn’t know anyone; I was just getting acquainted with the guys in my dorm.

    But I ate at the campus cafeteria. And there was a guy working there (obviously a student, but older than me) who didn’t know me from Adam, but who always had a big smile and a hearty greeting, like, “Hi, how are you?”

    I’d always answer back, “fine,” or something. But I wondered who this guy was. So I asked someone, and was told “Hey, that’s Johnny Noah. He’s the big star of our hockey team!”

    Now, my home town was way too small to have a school hockey rink, let alone a team. So I knew nothing about hockey, other than the point of it was to get that little black round thing into the net. But because of that guy Noah, I started going to UND games, and I sure cheered extra hard for Johnny.

    Now, move up to recent years — mayne three-four years ago — I was in Scheel’s Hardware, and there was Johnny, looking at something. I recognized him from seeing his picture in the paper every so often, because he often was in the news. So I went up to him, introduced myself, and told him about the impact he had on me back at UND decades ago. Naturally, being a humble guy, he just kind of said “Thank you” and let it slide.

    So I never really got to know him. But boy, I sure appreciated him and respected him, for being a well-known UND hockey player and yet being friendly and encouraging to a kid who was a nobody.

    And then, after all these years, I’m in the hospital here in Fargo, and one of the people taking care of me as his son Mark. So the Noah family has had an impact on me, starting in 1950 and into the 2000s.

    To all of you in John’s family: My sympathy to you. May the Lord grant you peace and comfort at the loss of John . . . a loss not only to you but to the many people like me whose lives he touched.

  20. Though I did not know John Noah, I have had the privilege of knowing and working with his son, Dave Noah for about 35 years! Knowing Dave well, makes me know Dave has a wonderful Mother, siblings, and Father – John Noah!!

  21. My first memories of John are from public skating sessions at the Coliseum in the ’70s. Who could forget his trademark “tuk”?! When I worked for the UND Athletic Department, John and I watched a lot of SIOUX football from the comfort of a golf cart in the end zone. He was great entertainment-even if the game wasn’t!

    All of us that grew up playing hockey in Fargo owe John and Mary a “thank you” for their devotion to the game. The game of hockey was very good to John and in return John was very, very good for the game.

    My deepest sympathies to the entire family.

  22. My deepest sympathy to Mary and family. Remembering “Mr. Noah” from living around the corner of 15th St & 11th Ave. The Noah family felt like part of the Honl’s. My brothers and the Noah boys paraded in and out of each other’s homes and played, played, played. John Noah is the meaning of hero “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” God’s blessings to you all.

  23. When the book “Prairie Peddlers: Syrian-Lebanese in North Dakota” was published we profiled John. His life exemplified what works wonders in this world; faith, family, friendship and education. One of our favorite pictures is on page 38 of John with his brothers Fr. Tim and Fr. Dan at a Catholic banquet. We were fascinated by the Lebanese immigrants strong values and service. At how Arabic first names became last names. The Maronite Catholic village of Bouhaire-Toula sent the Noahs, Isaacs, Josephs, Salems, Amons and others to Crookston. For decades the Cathedral hockey teams had surnames right out of the Bible. Fr. William Sherman, John Guerrero and myself felt privileged to meet such great families. We knew John was the first person of Arabic heritage to be an All-American hockey player and perhaps the first to win an Olympic medal. John would be the first to say all of this pales in comparison to Christ’s love. God bless! Paul Whitney

  24. Dear Mary & Children,
    We extend our heart felt sympathy to all of you during this sad time. I (Darlene) will always remember John as a kind and caring man when he was the Federal Probation Officer and I worked for the Clerk’s Office. May all the memories made as a family comfort you and help to bring you peace. “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.” Cherish the memories……

  25. Mary and the Family,

    I was sad to hear of John’s passing. He was a great man and it was a privilege to meet him and Chris, if I am correct, at the Deaf Hockey camp in Chicago. Both were a joy to have at the camp coming from North Dakota. Also seeing him at the UND games was fun also! May he rest in peace. Your family will always be in my prayers.

    David Zimmerman

  26. To Mary and Family, Our fondest memories go back many years in Crookston. John our dad, Ray Horge and Mom, RaeAnn were best friends. I am sure they are up in heaven discussing the good old days. Deepest Sympathies to your family. Allen, Cathie, SueAnn, Terry, Timothy John, named after John and Jim, The Horge Family.

  27. Father John the limo driver. John earned the Nickname Father John when at Aces of Hearts Limousine there was 3 Chauffeurs with the name of John. Father John, Willie, and Butch were their new names.
    When I would be driving with John on a limousine run many times people would ask him what he did before he drove limousine. He had the same answer, he would point to me and say Bob was a Moorhead Cop, he’d arrest people, throw them in jail. After they had been found guilty and put on Probation than they were my problem I was a Federal Probation Officer. They would look at me and I would shake my head Yes, and John would smile.
    The first time I met John Noah it cost me a $1. My son Fred was playing on the Moorhead Squirts Hockey team. I was running the clock and Coach John was the visiting team hockey coach, He introduced himself. John was getting upset with his top two lines, after two Periods they were behind 3 to 0. He came out of the locker room and said you want to bet on the game. I said your down 3 to 0, smiled and said were just getting warmed up. He kept after me so I thought why not. The 3rd period was getting ready to start and his top line started to skate out and he said get back here. He pointed to the boys at the end of the bench and told them to go out there, one of the boys said I can’t skate with them. John said fall down in front of them. Face off and the Moorhead skater took off for the net, the skater he had to beat fell down in front of the Moorhead skater, down went the Moorhead skater. Line switch, 1st line stood up and John told them to sit down and told his 3rd line (who had not played much the 1st two periods to go out there). One of the boys from the 1st line asked John if they were going to get too play any more that game. He told the 1st and 2nd line boys those kids can’t skate as well as you but they are trying their best which your not so they’ll be playing the rest of the game. The look on their faces, I knew now why John was a winning coach. The one boy asked if they could have one more chance. Next face off he let them out there. Goal! He looked at the 2nd line and then said 1 more chance. Moorhead lost 5 to 3. I gave John his $1 and he smiled. He then patted his 3rd and 4th line on the back and told them how well they had done, even though they didn’t score a goal.
    The Lord needs a good Limo Driver and he got one in John. He better fasten his seat belt, when ridding in Father John’s Limousine.

  28. Our love and prayers to all who loved John and had the honor of calling him family or friend. What a life he lived and what a legacy he’s left. May God bless and comfort you Mary, Paul, and family. Love, Josh and Lindsay

  29. John was so wonderful to work with, always positive and always great stories. He will be missed by so many. Thoughts and prayers with his family and friends.

  30. The hockey community has lost a gem. I have known John for many years, he organized the first girls hockey team in Fargo(many years ago!!) and I was fortunate to be on the team, along with Lisa. Very patient man! We did not win a game but he got us out there and took the time to increase our passion for the game. Every time I saw him he had his huge smile on his face and always a greeting. The angels should be smiling today as they are getting a wonderful man. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. Enjoy the memories…as I know there are many. God bless….

  31. John and the Noah family have had a long connection with the Gompf family through many avenues. Personally, John provided me with guidance and some great stories. Sadly, my (lack of) hockey skills didn’t allow me to know him in that world, but I know many of his family members and they are some of the finest people that you will encounter. I will miss John’s laugh and feisty manner. All of his family will be in the thoughts and prayers of our family. May he rest in peace.

  32. Dear Mark & family so sorry for your loss of a great man no person can follow in his footsteps.God so loved him & knew it was time to make him pain free from the world. Prayers especially durnng this difficult time.

  33. We are so sorry for your loss. We will always remember John for his humor and wit. He and Mary raised a wonderfully loving family, the world is better off for having him in it! He will be missed. May he rest in peace. And may God bring you all peace and love in this difficult time.

    Ivan, Kari, Aidan and Samuel Clements

  34. My wife and I offer our prayers for Johnny and his family. I grew up in Crookston where I suspect that everyone knew Johnny. He was a couple of years older than I so I was able to look up to him because of his size but also because of the kind of guy he was even as a kid. I used to watch him on the football field playing for the Cathedral Blue Wave and for what seemed like a half a year on the ice. During his summer breaks at UND he would work for George Conati (Sanitary Dairy) and would provide vacation relieve for Carl Hallos on the home milk delivery where I knew the route but John had the drivers license. I met up with Johnny again while attending UND where he was involved with a new re-hab program for the state and the U. Our last meeting was during an all high school reunion back in the old home town several years ago. He was a heck of athlete and an even better man, one I’ll never forget. May our Lord’s perpetual light shine upon him.
    John Normann

  35. My grandparents were also from Lebanon and I can remember my dad sharing stories about John’s parents as we were growing up. Although I never knew John other than through hockey, I did know him as a good hearted person in the Fargo community. I had the honor of visiting with him on several occasions where we talked about hockey and our Lebanese families. I can say this about John, Fargo is a better place because of John Noah and God has welcomed him with all the grace and glory of heaven. May he forever rest in the Glory of God. My condolences to the wonderful Noah family.

  36. My family and I grew up playing hockey for John Noah. He always emphasized having fun over winning or
    loosing. That lesson carried over into life. We will always remember him as a coach and friend. John always
    had a smile on his face and a good word for everyone.(except some referees). We will miss him.

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