John Antone Slenders was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin on April 2, 1954, to Dutch immigrant parents Paula and Andrew Slenders and passed away to his heavenly father on November 6, 2021.
John was the first of seven boys, and in typical Dutch fashion he was always just a little more special being the first-born. This was something his brothers never let him forget. In 1963, the Slenders family moved from Wisconsin to Chino, California. The move came with a memorable cross country road trip with his dad and brothers, Tony and Andy.
While settling into their new life in sunny Southern California, John and his brothers made quick friends with other Dutch families. The days were often filled with playing in groups of at least a dozen strong. He attended Damian Catholic Boys School, where stories involving pranks on the nuns and priests are still talked about to this day. God bless them. In the early 1970's, the family moved again to the Central Valley where they started their own dairy.
Upon arriving in the valley, John attended Caruthers High School where he was quickly known for his good looks and charming personality. He took at least thirty minutes to blow dry and style his hair. His hair had to be perfect before he got into his 1967 Ford Shelby GT500. This solidified him as the new heart throb of Caruthers High. John started catching the eye of a lot of girls at school, however, he only had eyes for the future love of his life Janice Loflin. After seeing Janice around school, he admitted to friends "I'm going to marry that girl.” John and Janice were in fact married on April 8, 1978, at St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Fresno, California.
After marrying, John and Janice moved to Chowchilla, California to start their next adventure together of running the family dairy and getting to know their new small town. Most Chowchilla residents can say that Chowchilla was never the same after the Slenders boys came to town. For next 44 years, John would have long days and nights with his brothers, as they worked on the dairy and began to grow their families. In 1993, John and Janice welcomed their beloved daughter, Johnna Marie Slenders. Both sides of the family were over the moon that John and Janice were finally parents after being the greatest aunt & uncle to several nieces and nephews.
A big part of John’s life was his love for the dairy business. He always had his routine of working in his white t-shirt, jeans, and rubber boots, all while tinkering around on equipment and performing his everyday tasks. With the dairy operating 24/7, there was always a cast of characters around. This resulted in endless shenanigans, which included cows getting loose at 2 a.m. or a tractor catching fire. However, none of those things were ever out of the ordinary at Slenders Dairy. John was an animal lover. His dogs were always next to him in his pick-up truck cruising around the countryside. While cruising, John always kept an eye out for another item he could add to his elaborate collection of “discarded treasures.”
John loved his Dutch heritage as well as the many visits from his cherished Dutch relatives and entertaining them around the dairy. He always had a wedge of gouda cheese in the fridge and wore his wooden shoes to do yard work. He was also known for his famous mudslide cocktails, which he perfected much to his nieces and nephews’ delight. They loved to ask their Uncle John to show off his party trick of a perfect mudslide. John never met a stranger and always enjoyed conversation with both the young and elderly. In true John fashion you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth as he didn’t hold back the truth or an inappropriate comment, one of his more memorable & endearing qualities.
One of John’s favorite things to do was ride his Harley Davidson with his brothers and friends. They would go on rides all over the Western United States. This included a trip to Washington with his brothers Danny and Andy, which was one of his more memorable trips. At a bar, John was enjoying the company of a new friend. After three hours of conversation, John went to say goodbye to his new companion when he was surprised to learn that the gentleman was blind. Danny and Andy are still unsure who was more surprised, John or the blind man.
John’s most treasured times in life was when he was with his two grandchildren, Sophia and Hudson. The three of them loved exploring the farm and spending quality time together creating memories that they will always cherish. He also had a special relationship with Janice’s large extended family who loved him like their own. They enjoyed his notorious incorrect pronunciation of words and how he loved bringing his nieces & nephews back to the dairy after holidays so they could have a house full of kids running around and playing.
John is preceded in death by his parents Paula and Andrew Slenders, his brothers Paul and Patrick, and nephew Nicholas Slenders. He is survived by his dear wife Janice of 43 years, daughter Johnna, grandchildren Sophia and Hudson, brothers Tony (Susan), Danny, Andy (Arlete), and Bernie (Jeanine), and many cherished nieces and nephews.
A Rosary will be held on Sunday, November 14, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. at Jay Chapel in Madera, California. A Mass of Catholic Burial will be celebrated on Monday, November 15, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Columba Catholic Church in Chowchilla, California.