Obituary for John K. Macken | Ryan Funeral Homes
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John K. Macken

July 30, 1932 ~ September 27, 2018 (age 86)

WEST PORT/ WAUNAKEE/ MADISON – John K. “Bugsy” Macken, age 86, peacefully joined his beautiful bride, Kathleen, on Thursday, September 27, 2018.  John was born in Madison, WI on July 30, 1932 to Hugh and Rosalie Macken.  John attended Edgewood High School in Madison, WI. John enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and courageously served his country in the 17 day campaign in the Chosin Reservoir of the Korean War in 1950 and was honored as the Chosin Few.  John married the love of his life Kathleen M. Paar on August 13, 1955 at St. Bernard Catholic Church. 

John joined the Plasterers Union and became an expert journeyman plasterer. He worked in building and restructuring of new and historical preservation in the UW campus, the Capitol and Madison area. 

After his plastering career, John started his venture in the raw fur business, starting in the family’s home garage and later building the family business Macken Fur Co. in Waunakee, WI.  John was well known in the trapping and fur industry as “Big Bad John.”   His passion for the fur industry and devotion to the hard working trapper would bring many across the Midwest for his knowledge and expertise on fur.  The trappers could always count on a debate with price, a good story, and a shot of whiskey he had on hand as he graded their days catch late into the night.   John was well known for his strong and rough exterior, his roar like a grizzly with no fear, to a man with a big heart and helping hand.  After years in the fur business, John retired to enjoy life by collecting and refinishing antiques.  John enjoyed buying an old broken piece of furniture and turning it back into a handsome display of history once again.  His hobby and passion for antiques inspired him to open his refinishing business for several years, called “Furniture Renew.”   John enjoyed spending time with his family and friends while traveling the world with his wife. 

John is survived by his five children, Michael, Tracy, Carolyn, Jeanette and Allie; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. 

A memorial celebration of life with Full Military honors will be held at 11:00 AM at RYAN FUNERAL HOME, 2418 N. Sherman Ave, Madison, on Saturday, October 6, 2018. A visitation will be held from 9:00 AM until time of service at the funeral home.

A special thank you to all of our father’s care teams: Comfort Keepers Inc., Ms. Langston, Agrace, and Aster Memory Care who assisted and provided exceptional care for our father.  To view and sign this guestbook, please visit:


Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services

2418 N. Sherman Ave.


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