John Ulrich Obituary

Reverend John A. Ulrich, 75, of Havre, passed away on Monday, July 27, 2015, at Northern Montana Care Center after a long and courageous battle with metastatic melanoma.

Pastor John was born on May 27, 1940, in Grants Pass, OR, to John and Helen (Floyd) Ulrich.  He was raised in McMinnville, OR, graduated from McMinnville High School, and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Education  from the University of Portland. John and his first wife Margaret Wilson were married for a short 14 months before she passed away of a sudden illness in 1967. He married Joy Hayhurst, and the couple adopted their son Dean while John was earning his Master of Divinity at Garrett Evangelical Seminary. 

John served churches in the Oregon-Idaho Conference and in Spokane, WA. He left the ministry for a time and held  several jobs, the most notable being a Grant Director for Caregivers in Salem, OR. After an amicable divorce, John was called back into the ministry and came to the Yellowstone Conference in 1989. Pastor John served churches in Clancy, Sidney, Lakeside, and Havre. He married Rita Ostby in 1990 while serving in Clancy. He served on various Conference  committees during his career and recently became a member of the Havre Area Ministerial Association. John was Pastor at Van Orsdel United Methodist Church from 2012 through June of this year.

Life is full of trials, and John certainly had his share. Tragically, son Dean passed away in 1998 at age 27 after a long fight against a congenital disease.  John and Rita’s religious convictions helped them endure this heartbreaking test of faith. John was a vibrant and positive influence in the lives of everyone who knew him. He offered compassionate advice and uplifting guidance to hundreds of parishioners, and bestowed sparkling enthusiasm on friends and family. He was incredibly generous with his time and resources.

John’s powerful love for life was contagious. He was a remarkably energetic 75 years young, with a passion for good movies, live theater, travel, family gatherings, and fine food. Whether playing golf or tennis, talking politics, competing in board or card games, tooting his Doc Severinsen custom trumpet, preparing a tasty meal, or presenting a riveting sermon, John enhanced the lives of everyone around him. His witty jokes, twinkling eyes, and mischievous grin were taken from us far too soon. He will be sorely missed.

John was preceded in death by his first wife Margaret (Wilson) Ulrich; his son Dean Christian Ulrich; his father John Ulrich, a decorated Army Colonel with distinguished service in World War II and Korea; and his mother and step-father Helen and Larry Loban. John is survived by his beloved wife Rita; his daughter Greta (Chuck) Adams of Cody, WY; his sons Grant (Jeannie) Ostby of Cut Bank, MT, and Luke (Marissa) Ostby of Helena, MT; his grandchildren Brandon Ostby, and twins Sloane and London Ostby; his sister Laura (David) Hornibrook of Tigard, OR; and his cousins Donald and David Floyd of Astoria, OR; and in-laws Ruby Sheppard of Cody, WY, Kathryn (Bud) Beebe of Sacramento, CA, and Hugh Greenup of Philipsburg, MT.

At John’s request in lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to Van Orsdel United Methodist Church. These funds will be divided so that memorial benches may be placed at the Flathead United Methodist Youth Camp, a memorial plaque placed at Havre Sletten Cancer Center, and education funds invested for John’s beloved grandchildren.