Obituary: Dr. John Carl Langfeldt, 1944-2021 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Dr. John Carl Langfeldt, 1944-2021 

Navy veteran, dentist and loving patriarch was full of wit and laughter

Published December 14, 2021 at 6:00 a.m.

click to enlarge Dr. Langfeldt - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Dr. Langfeldt

Dr. John Carl Langfeldt died early on Friday morning, December 3, 2021, of complications related to cancer, two weeks after his beloved wife of nearly 50 years, Ursula, also departed. He was at his residence at the Eastview at Middlebury Retirement Community with his children by his side and under the loving care of Addison County Home Health & Hospice and the MeadowSweet nursing team.

John was born on March 9, 1944, in the Bronx, N.Y., to Dorothy Nagle Langfeldt and Dr. Ray Carl Langfeldt, DDS. At the time of John’s birth, his father was stationed in England with the U.S. Army awaiting the imminent invasion of Europe. As an infant, John lived with his mother and his aunt in New York City before heading west to McCook, Neb., where his family settled after the war’s conclusion. Ray opened a dental practice, and Dorothy was a homemaker and mother to John and his older brother and best friend, Gene, and his two much-loved younger sisters, Mari and Cathy. John went to St. Patrick Catholic elementary school, followed by McCook High School, where he was student council president during his senior year and lettered on the football team. He graduated in 1962.

John then attended the University of Nebraska, where he earned both his undergraduate and dental school degree. It was at dental school that he made a number of lifelong friends, who bestowed upon him the nickname ”Zeus.”

Upon graduating with his doctorate of dental surgery in 1969, John immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He attended officer candidate school at Parris Island, S.C., a formative experience that earned him commission as a second lieutenant before shipping out for Okinawa, Japan.

Returning stateside in 1971, John was assigned to Naval Station Newport, R.I. Soon after arriving, a friend of his set him up on a blind date with a young nurse who would become his lifelong love, Ursula Carney. Following a quick courtship and engagement, they were married in West Roxbury, Mass., in June 1972, and shortly thereafter moved to Middlebury, Vt.

A devout believer in civic duty, John served on a variety of boards over the years, including as president of the Vermont State Dental Society, president of the Frog Hollow State Craft Center, board member of the Eastview at Middlebury Retirement Community (where, later in life, he and Ursula resided), and appointee by governor Jim Douglas to the Vermont State Board of Dental Examiners, which he chaired. John also volunteered for decades with the Special Olympics, served on the Ilsley Public Library fundraising committee, painted the M on the 50-yard line before every Middlebury Union High School home football game (even for years after his children had graduated), donated blood on a monthly basis, and was an early and enduring proponent of Vermont’s Dr. Dynasaur free pediatric dental care program.

John’s sense of humor can favorably be described as “unique,” and he was never at a loss for words or a wisecrack in order to elicit a smile and a chuckle from a friend, patient, colleague, nurse, grandchild or virtually anyone within earshot. He delighted in making others laugh or, at least, smile. As a dentist, Dr. Langfeldt was highly respected by peers and patients alike, and his office staff became like a second family to him; their tenures measured in decades, not years.

If John’s vocation was dentistry, his avocation was undoubtedly the outdoors and, more specifically, hunting. He spent his adolescence stalking the prairies and high plains of Nebraska with his father and brother. Upon his arrival in Vermont in the early 1970s, he transitioned easily to eastern partridge, duck and goose hunting with his always poorly trained but loyal and energetic Brittany spaniels and Labradors. In the Green Mountains, he also found a new love of deer hunting, particularly after joining the close-knit and gregarious Camp Manhattan. For the rest of his life, he looked forward to those two weeks in November all year long. He remained a proud Nebraskan and westerner throughout his life, but the Green Mountains became just as much a part of his DNA after half a century in Vermont.

Family meant everything to John. He and Ursula succeeded in raising three children, Carl, Evan and Gretchen, to be as close with one another as they remained with their own treasured siblings. Despite John’s work schedule, their kids cannot remember a game that he missed throughout many years of athletic competition. He was always there, cheering loudly from the stands or the sidelines, home or away, or recording video for the coaches’ later use. His children will always remember him as a larger-than-life personality, generous, optimistic and intelligent — a voracious reader, full of wit and laughter, and a dedicated, supportive and loving husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather. His adage of “Happy day!” will echo in their ears and memories for the rest of their lives.

John was predeceased by his beloved wife, Ursula Carney Langfeldt; his parents, Dr. Ray C. Langfeldt and Dorothy N. Langfeldt; and his brother Gene Langfeldt, sister-in-law CarolAnn Langfeldt and niece Jessica Langfeldt Haverkate. He is survived by his sons, Carl (Amanda) and Evan (Elizabeth), and his daughter Gretchen; and his grandchildren, Harper and Rowan Langfeldt of Laguna Niguel, Calif., and Louisa Langfeldt of Charlotte, Vt. He is also survived by his sisters Cathy (Mark) and Mari (Bill); and his 17 nieces and nephews; as well as much-loved in-laws, cousins and so many friends. John was one of a kind and will be greatly missed.

While heartbroken to lose both John and Ursula in quick succession, their three children, family and friends are comforted by the knowledge that they were quickly reunited and will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in one another’s arms this coming June. There are too many people to thank here for their loving help and care over these last few years, but we would particularly like to express our gratitude to the skilled caregivers at Porter Medical Center, Middlebury Regional EMS, Eastview at Middlebury Retirement Community, and Addison County Home Health & Hospice. Throughout his cancer journey, Dad never lost his sense of humor or quick wit, and we are grateful to all of his health care providers for both tolerating it and giving it right back, to his great joy.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Dr. John C. Langfeldt’s honor to Addison County Home Health & Hospice (achhh.org/memorial-gifts.html). A joint funeral service for Dr. John and Ursula Langfeldt will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 15, 2022, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Middlebury.

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