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John Edward Notestein

October 15, 1937 ~ September 5, 2021 (age 83)

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John Notestein, 83, of Fountain Hills, AZ passed away peacefully at his home on September 5, 2021.  He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend.  

John was born on October 15, 1937 in Grand Rapids, MI to Robert and Margaret (Polly) Notestein and the family moved to Whitefish Bay, WI a few years later.  He graduated from Whitefish Bay High School in 1955 and enrolled at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.  John completed a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue, where he was also a member of Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Gamma Tau. Shortly after graduation, he married his college sweetheart, Joan, in 1960.  They settled into married life in San Diego, CA where John worked for Convair Astronautics, a division of General Dynamics, on the Atlas Missile and Centaur Rocket programs. His career in space continued with a move to General Electric’s Space Division in Valley Forge, PA in 1962.  In the 14 years at GE, he developed power systems that went to the moon and others that journeyed through the solar system as well as unconventional land-based energy projects involving solar, wind and geothermal power.  In 1976, John moved his family to Morgantown, WV to become Director of Technology Development and Engineering at the Morgantown Energy Technology Center (now the National Energy Technology Laboratory), part of the U.S. Department of Energy.  During his 22 years with DOE, he led research focusing on coal and oil shale extraction, conversion and utilization, shared his expertise and coordinated efforts with other national labs and companies within the U.S. and abroad, authored technical standards and mentored many engineers.  He retired in 1998 as Chief Engineer, having been awarded the DOE Director’s Innovation Leadership Award in 1993, and 27 patents over his nearly 40 year career.  John had several hobbies including target shooting, photography and home movies, and building/flying radio-controlled airplanes, but one of his favorite activities was traveling with Joan and his family.  Once retired, he and Joan ventured west again, this time, to live in Fountain Hills, AZ.

In 2003, John suffered a stroke, but he worked hard through rehab and therapy with his family at his side.  Over the next 18 years, as John’s health took unexpected turns, his family helped him (and those that cared for him) to find ways to adjust to whatever the new normal entailed.  Joan’s devotion to him as his primary caregiver was a testament to their abiding love and 61 years of life together.  His family is grateful to the caregivers and medical personnel that cared for John over the years.

John liked to be busy, was intensely curious, and interested in learning and doing new things.  He had a wry sense of humor, even in the waning years of his life.  John was always willing to provide an understanding ear, guidance and perspective when asked.  His observations and thoughts were honest and from the heart.  He is survived by his treasured wife, Joan; daughters Cindy (Shawn), Chris (Jeff), Lisa (Zach) and five grandchildren, Andrew, Nicole, Jonah, Meredith, and Christopher. 

A funeral mass will be held on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at 10:00 AM at the Roman Catholic community of the Church of the Ascension, 12615 N. Fountain Hills Blvd. in Fountain Hills, followed by interment of ashes in the mausoleum at Paradise Memorial Gardens in Scottsdale.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in John’s memory to Barrow Neurological Institute of Phoenix, AZ (, Christian Help of Morgantown, WV (, and Mercy Home for Boys & Girls in Chicago, IL (


Memorial Mass
September 14, 2021

10:00 AM
Church of the Ascension
12615 N Fountain Hills Blvd.
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268

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