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Former Lake Elmo Rotary leader dies Sunday

John Deir, a Stillwater resident and former Lake Elmo Rotary Club president, died Sunday in northern Minnesota. Submitted photo

John Deir, a Stillwater resident who was on track to become the area district governor for area Rotary International clubs next year, died Sunday of an apparent heart attack while vacationing with family on the North Shore.

Deir retired in 2009 from a 37-year-career in education, most recently serving four years as principal at Mahtomedi, according to a biography on the Rotary District 5960 web site.

Deir, a member and past president of the Lake Elmo Rotary Club, was chosen as Rotary District Governor-elect several years ago and was slated to follow Joe Kovarik of Cottage Grove in the role as District Governor in 2013-14. The region includes clubs in Red Wing, Hastings, Stillwater and others in Minnesota and Hudson, River Falls, New Richmond and more in Wisconsin.

District Rotary leaders were meeting at the organization's Roseville office Monday afternoon to decide on a new leadership plan and making arrangements to acknowledge Deir's passing, according to Jingle Mahan, executive secretary for the District.

Mahan said she was told Deir was on vacation in the Grand Marais area Sunday he suddenly lost consciousness while sitting, visiting with family. EMS services responded but resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been set.

Deir is survived by his wife, Sandra Nicholson, and an adult son and daughter, who live in Texas and the Twin Cities, respectively.

St. Mary's University, Winona, web site lists Nicholson as director of the college's Master of Arts in Education program and as an adjunct program instructor.

Deir's first 12 years in education were spent teaching social studies in Marshall, Minn. He then moved into the position of assistant principal at Marshall High School. After a two-year stint as the Marshall Middle School principal, he became principal at Litchfield High School. In 1992, Deir became principal at Fridley High School where he remained until retiring in 2003.

In 1986, he joined the Litchfield Rotary Club and six years later, was elected president resigned due to his move to Fridley. Deier served as president of the Fridley-Columbia Heights Rotary Club in 2004-2005.

In retirement, Deir worked as a real estate agent wit Coldwell Banker Burnet in Fridley for two years.

In 2005, he was asked to serve as the interim principal in Mahtomedi and remained in that position for four years, retiring again in 2009.

During this time, Deir and his wife, Sandy Nicholson, moved to Stillwater and he joined the newly-formed Lake Elmo Rotary Club. He served as club president in 2008-2009 before becoming an assistant governor for Area 11 and acting as strategic planning trainer for the District.

According to his biography, Deir joined Rotary in 1986 as a job requirement in Marshall. While a member however, he discovered that Rotary embodied programs that reflected his value system such as helping the less fortunate, working for peace and providing opportunities for a better and healthier life. Deir also enjoyed Rotary's "Service above Self" motto.

His biography also included some teaching at the College of St. Scholastica.