John Lutes II

Published 6:06 pm Monday, November 6, 2023

May 11, 1947-Oct. 28, 2023


John Rood Lutes II, 76, passed away peacefully in Austin, Texas, Oct. 28, 2023, surrounded by his family. He was born May 11, 1947, in South Bend, Indiana to John R Lutes Sr. and Marybelle Lutes (nee Pearson).
Raised in the close-knit community of Dowagiac, Michigan, John cherished his upbringing. He often regaled his family and friends with heartwarming tales of childhood exploits around Dowagiac and Sister Lakes. John viewed his formative years with friends, cousins, and his beloved sister Jackie as a foundational influence that continued to enrich his life.
From a young age, John possessed an effervescent personality that could ignite a room. His mischievous sense of humor and playful spirit were his trademarks. John was never one to shy away from a practical joke; he believed that laughter was the elixir of life.
Beyond his playful exterior was a man deeply committed to his family. A role model to his children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren, John never missed an important moment in their lives, whether it was a sports game, a recital, or a school play. The devotion and pride he took in his family were unmistakably evident. His five treasured grandchildren, who affectionately called him “Bita,” brought him endless joy and happiness.
Professionally, John devoted his career to sales, most notably at the John R. Lutes Company, a family business founded by his father in 1952, which represented several sporting goods manufacturers in the six midwest states. It was a job he loved, working side-by-side with his father, who was also his best friend, until his father’s passing in 1980. Taking the reins as President of the company, John carried on the family legacy until he joined Weatherby in 2005 as the North American Sales Manager, a position he held until his retirement in 2013.
His success in sales could be credited to his magnetic charisma and keen ability to listen. A man of immense wisdom, John often stated, “You never learn anything when you talk,” which was one of the many life lessons that he instilled in his children.
A lover of the open road, John not only loved traveling for work, but relished long train journeys across the country in retirement. John loved the open tracks, the changing landscapes, and the mosaic of people he met along the way. This wanderlust complemented his intellectual curiosity, as John was fascinated by the complexities of the cosmos, quantum physics, religion, and history and was an avid reader on these topics.
John graduated from Dowagiac Union High School in 1965 and went on to attend Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. He honorably served in the United States Navy from 1966 to 1970 as a radio engineer on the USS Turner (1967-1969) and the USS Charles F. Adams (1969-1970), stationed in the Mediterranean. Despite suffering from severe seasickness, he spoke fondly of his days in the service and the camaraderie he shared with his fellow servicemen. Upon returning from the Navy, he met his future wife Leslie Fifer, whom he married in 1972.
Surviving him is his wife, Leslie Daryl Fifer Lutes of Winter Springs, Florida; his daughter, Nicole Louise Lutes Fuentes (Antonio Fuentes) and grandsons Jack and Adam Fuentes of Carlsbad, California; and his son, John R. Lutes III (Sarah Reibe Lutes) and grandchildren Izzy, John Rood IV, and Emma Lutes of Austin, Texas. He is also survived by his sister, Mrs. Jaqueline Goldstein of Birmingham, Alabama, niece Jennifer Goldstein Kluth, and nephew Jonathan Goldstein.
A private family service will be held in Austin, Texas on Nov. 5. A memorial service will be held at Mission Hills Memorial Chapel in Niles (Dowagiac), Michigan at 11 a.m., on Aug. 3, 2024, with visitation an hour prior.
John’s legacy is one of love, laughter, and curiosity. He leaves behind a family that adored him, friends who cherished him, and a life well-lived that will continue to inspire those who were fortunate enough to know him. He will be deeply missed, but never forgotten.
In lieu of flowers or donations, those who knew John are invited to share a memory with our family. Voice memos can be left at or by calling (800) 437-3009. When prompted, enter your Invitation Number: 90235.