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John R. Van Cleave

January 13, 2023 | 7 comments

John R. Van Cleave, 56, of West Salem, died on Thursday, January 12, 2023 at home surrounded by his family after a short battle with cancer.  He was born April 15, 1966, in Duluth, Minnesota to Roger and Sharlyn Van Cleave.  He was raised in Aurora, Minnesota and graduated from Aurora Hoyt Lakes High School in 1984.  Following high school he attended the University of Wisconsin Superior where he received his physical education degree and was a goalie for the Yellowjackets hockey team.  He went on to earn his Masters of Education from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.  He was a physical education teacher at Viroqua Area Schools for 27 years, where he touched many lives as a teacher and a coach. 

John was always up for a new adventure and enjoyed traveling and exploring new places with his wife, Tia.  Family was very important to John,  as he loved spending time with his children and grandchildren.

John is survived by his wife and best friend, Tia; five children, Morgan (Wayne Hansen), Zane, Devin, Jonah and Lauren Van Cleave; three step children, Ben, Jack and John; three grandchildren, Silas, Kolter, and Stella; a sister, Mary (Brian) Durand along with their two sons Brendan and Derian; three brother in laws, Todd and Stephanie Anderson (Morgan, Ethan, and Evan), Thor and Beth Anderson (Reghan, Sam, Renee) Thane and Krista Anderson (Tyler, Drew, Olivia); his dad’s wife, Sarah Koski, and his furry pal, Jazzy. 

Funeral services for John R. Van Cleave will be at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, January 19, 2023, from the St. Teresa of Kolata Catholic Church, 210 Hamilin St., West Salem, Wisconsin. Deacon Robert Zietlow will officiate.  A luncheon will be served following the service at the church.

Family and friends will gather on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, from 5-8 p.m. at the Coulee Region Cremation Group, 133 Mason St., Onalaska, Wisconsin.

In lieu of flowers the family prefers memorials be given in John’s name to  the Viroqua or West Salem Youth Hockey programs.



  1. Melissa Ganz

    Sending our love to Tia and John’s family.

  2. Steve & Vicki Stromberg

    Tia and Kids,
    We are so very very sorry for the loss of your awesome husband/father/grandfather. We pray that all your memories of this wonderful man will help you through this difficult time. Sending our deepest condolences and sympathy.
    Steve & Vicki

  3. Mrs. Jill Miller

    Mr. V taught much more than P.E. to Viroqua students. Learning respect for one another, taking responsibility for oneself, and treating others with kindness was how John taught and lived. He gave of himself in so many ways; Jump Rope for Heart was a huge success for many years because of John. My heart goes out to his family. We were all truly blessed by him.

  4. Amy Dupont

    May you find some comfort in your memories

  5. Laurie Bertram

    Tía and family,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. No words can make any of this better….Thinking and praying for you all during this difficult time!

  6. Tim Lee

    Tia and family,

    Heavy hearts are felt by all with the passing of John. God gave us a gift through John and that gift was John becoming a teacher, who impacted the lives of so many young children. His students loved having him as their PE teacher. I always looked forward to working with John as a fellow PE colleague, especially during elementary swim days. He was a fun person to be around! Let us all hold onto those special memories of John as we move forward during this most difficult time.

    Tia….Thank you for your love, kindness and support of John during these past several years. You were that bright light for him that shined in his eyes.

    Sadly missed!

    Tim L.

    • Mark Volden

      Tia, and Family. Today was a very touching service as we reflected on your Husband and best friend John . He touched so many lives in such a short time. In Viroqua you and John have such a special place in our hearts. You two were such great teachers at Viroqua area Schools. Thank you for teaching our three children and seven grandchildren. Blessed be John’s memory. The Volden’s

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