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Dr. Jon Fistler, 51, of Fort Frances, Ont., passed away unexpectedly at his residence on the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.

The Rainy River District has lost a great man and a remarkable large-animal veterinarian.

Dr. Jon was born Aug. 19, 1960 in Perham, Mn. to Carol and Dr. Raymond Fistler, DVM.

After graduating from Perham High School, Jon went on to the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine to follow in his father’s footsteps, graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Service in 1988 and the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from UVM in 1990.

Dr. Jon also was ordered to active duty in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, where his primary specialty was that of field medical assistant with the United States Army.

Although he was not called to duty overseas, he served his country with pride and honour.

Dr. Jon practised equine medicine throughout northern Minnesota, mixed animal medicine in International Falls and surrounding area, and had extensive experience in equine medicine, bovine medicine, and surgery.

He spent 12 years working for large exclusively dairy practices in Wisconsin and Minnesota, in addition to working with large beef herds.

It was Dr. Jon’s dream to move to Canada and he realized that dream last summer when he became employed with Dr. Bobby Egli of Hillcrest Animal Clinic in Dryden. He acquired his membership in the College of Veterinarians of Ontario and gained his accreditation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as an inspector under the Food Safety and Quality Act.

It was Dr. Jon’s dream to build a full and long-term large-animal practice in Rainy River District, where he knew they needed him. Dr. Jon experienced an overwhelming and welcoming reception by residents of Rainy River District, including horse owners and beef and dairy farmers who were so eager to work with him.

Dr. Jon was eternally grateful for all the friendships he made, and the respect and gratitude shown to him in such a short time.

Plans were in the works to open a clinic in Emo so that Dr. Jon could be closer to the farms on which he spent so much of his time.

Dr. Jon had a connection with the animal world unlike no other. He had a passion for his work. Everything he did, he did with expertise, preciseness, and with a genuine caring for both the large animal and the opinions and feedback from its owner.

Dr. Jon loved classical music, funny movies, vanilla bean ice cream, warm slippers, and long walks with the woman he loved. All of these brought him peace. But he truly loved hearing his phone ring because it meant it was time to go to work.

Dr. Jon was a bright new light for the Rainy River District large-animal veterinary service.

Dr. Jon also breathed new optimism, hope, and happiness into his life partner, Beth Caldwell, with whom he lived and shared the same passions for today and tomorrow. They enjoyed the little neck of the woods they called home here in Canada, but for far too brief a time.

His dogs, “Dot,” and “Cash,” and his special cat, “Millie,” will miss all the loving attention he gave them every day.

Dr. Jon was predeceased by his parents, Carol and Dr. Raymond Fistler; and his brother, Jim.

Left to cherish the memory of Dr. Jon, a lovely man who had an unmatched humanity and gentleness of spirit, are his life partner, Beth Caldwell of Fort Frances, Ont.; and his grown children and their partners, all of whom he adored to the ends of the earth, Lindsey Fistler (Rick Atkins) of Superior, Mn., Matt Fistler (Abby) of Washington, D.C., and Molly Fistler (Isaiah Johnson) of Moose Lake, Mn.

Also surviving is Dr. Jon’s sister, Nancy (Jim) Sprecker of Aurora, Colo; his aunt, Lois Anderson of Cloquet, Mn.; his nephew, Mike Fistler of Detroit Lakes, Mn.; and a large extended family of loved ones.

Also left to cherish his memory is his Canadian family, Lois and Bruce Caldwell of Fort Frances, Ont., Jay Caldwell and Tanice Marcella of Thunder Bay, Ont., Megan Zachozy, Colleen Zachozy, and Heather Zachozy, all of Fort Frances, Ont., and six little peppers who were just getting to know what a great playmate Papa Jon was.

At Jon’s request, cremation has taken place.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 at 3 p.m. at the Bethesda Evangelical Lutheran Church, 204 5th Street N., Carlton, Mn., with visitation at the church at 2 p.m.

In memoriam donations to the Dr. Jon Fistler Memorial Fund can be mailed c/o the Cloquet branch of US Bank, 705 Cloquet Ave., Cloquet, Mn., 55720.

A time of fellowship for Dr. Jon Fistler also will be held Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Northridge Funeral Home in Emo, Ont.

If desired, donations in Dr. Jon Fistler’s name will be accepted during the time of fellowship at Northridge Funeral Home for a cause very dear to Dr. Jon’s heart: the Stratton sales barn.

Dr. Jon believed in all things great and small, and he loved them all.