Obituary for John H. Fett | Ryan Funeral Homes
Landscapes 08


John H. Fett

May 7, 1932 ~ January 30, 2018 (age 85)

Madison - John H. Fett passed away unexpectedly but peacefully at his home on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. John was born on May 7, 1932 in Plymouth, WI to Walter and Lily (Weber) Fett. Growing up in Plymouth, John was active in FFA and 4H, played the clarinet in his school’s band, and worked on his family’s farm. He continued to work on the farm, kept bees, and produced maple syrup for eight years after his 1950 graduation from Plymouth High School. He then enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Agricultural Journalism and Ph.D. in Mass Communication. John was hired as an instructor at the university in 1962 and joined the faculty of the Department of Agricultural Journalism (now Life Sciences Communication) as a professor in 1967.

In 1967, John spent three years at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil with a US Agency for International Development program. It is here where he met his wife, Neiva. They were married in 1970 and returned to Madison. They spent 9 months in Brasilia, Brazil in 1976 when John was awarded a Fulbright-Hays scholarship. John served as chair of his department from 1977 to 1982. He spent his career teaching classes in radio, film, and publications. His research focused on development communication, information program evaluation, theory and practice of communication in rural development in developing countries, and evaluation of extension and other education information programs. He was passionate about his work and made wonderful, life-long friends of colleagues and students.

While John loved his work, his family was what was most important to him. He and Neiva and their children, Ana and Steven, enjoyed family vacations, holiday fun, Sunday afternoons on the golf course, and just spending time together. In retirement, John enjoyed making his grandchildren laugh, working on his golf game (in vain, he would say), cooking special meals, working in the yard, participating in a men’s group at Bethel Lutheran Church, producing beautiful stained glass and wood working projects, and tackling a nightly crossword puzzle with Neiva.

John is survived by his wife of 47 years, Neiva; children, Ana (Jason) Stephens and Steven (Sayaka) Fett; sister, Jane Behrens; and grandchildren, Evelyn, Brady and Samantha Stephens. He was preceded in death by his parents and sisters, Carol and Helen Fett.

John was a wonderful husband, father, father-in-law, grandpa and friend. He will be missed more than we can say.

An informal open house will be held for family and friends on Sunday, February 4 from 1pm until 4pm at the family home. In lieu of flowers, friends may donate to The American Heart Association:

To view and sign this guestbook, please visit

Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
2418 N. Sherman Ave.

Donations may be made to:

American Heart Association
2850 World Dairy Dr # 130,, Madison WI 53718

© 2019 Ryan Funeral Homes. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS