John A. Fine

John Arl Fine

February 8, 1950–March 14, 2022

John Arl Fine, 72, died in the early morning hours of March 14, 2022, in Lantana, Florida, surrounded by his family.

John was born on February 8, 1950, to Floyd Bond Fine and Flora Elizabeth “Shorty” (Bollman) Fine, in Albia, Iowa. He grew up on the family farm near West Grove, Iowa in rural Davis County.

John never shied away from an adventure and was fearless in the face of danger—at age two, he was once discovered riding his tricycle down the highway.

He graduated from Davis County High School in Bloomfield, Iowa, in 1968, and attended Indian Hills Community College for diesel mechanics—his severe corn and dust allergies made it clear he couldn’t rely on farming to make a living.

John’s late teens and early 20s could best be described as “How to Work Multiple Jobs Until You’re Hospitalized with Exhaustion,” punctuated by fun-filled nights “fishing” (drinking beer and building a zipline over the pond) with his buddies on 80 acres of land near his home.

(Floyd noticed his stock tanks were full of beer cans and deduced that his son wasn’t doing much fishing at all.)

John’s multiple jobs were narrowed down to one as he began driving a fuel tankwagon for Sun Oil Company in 1970, eventually buying the operation and starting his own business, Fine Oil Company, delivering bulk petroleum products to his customers. He later acquired the gas station on the levee in Centerville formerly owned by Ed Phillips.

In 1974 he married the tall farm girl who worked the counter at Elmer Wood & Company in Moulton, Diane Davis. On their farm north of Moulton, they tried (and failed) four times to produce a son. No matter; John was determined to raise four strong daughters, and he set about teaching them the value of hard work: how to run, not walk, when asked ordered to fetch a tool, that climbing into a tanker to scrub the insides with solvents that make your eyes water is no big deal, and you can never go wrong with more rebar in your concrete.

Fine Oil Company expanded to include underground and above-ground tank and piping installations and multiple delivery trucks. The business was successful, but John was always a guy who couldn’t say no. His drive for outstanding customer service was clear in everything he did, but it also meant that he worked 7 days a week, never letting the dust gather under his feet. One of John’s many “helpers” at Fine Oil Company once declared Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry to Get Things Done” as John’s theme song. Many Moulton natives did a stint as a “helper” at Fine Oil, and John enjoyed imparting the wisdom he’d gained on his protégés. John found that having four daughters made finding young men willing to be day laborers an easy task.

When he was just shy of 50 years old, John and Diane divorced and sold Fine Oil Company, and John set off on a new adventure both personally and professionally. He worked as a project manager for the next few years for Kum & Go Convenience Stores, traveling the central U.S. to manage the process of converting newly acquired stores to Kum & Go’s brand.

Once again, his (slightly crazy) work ethic made him a star employee, beloved by his supervisors and even company president Bill Krause. During that time he lived briefly in Lincoln, Nebraska and Kansas City, spending weeks at a time traveling for work.

In 2002, he was recruited to work as a Loss Control Inspector for an insurer of fuel storage tanks in Des Moines, which also brought him geographically closer to his daughters. He brought the same work ethic to this job, and over 15 years at Rounds & Associates, he performed 20,500 inspections and was the inaugural inductee into the Rounds & Associates Employee Hall of Fame. As he aged, his joints started complaining, and he endured two knee replacements and several surgeries on his feet, shoulders, and back. He went from a one-man show at Rounds to a teacher, imparting his wealth of petroleum knowledge on the next generation of inspectors.

John’s greatest pride and joy was his four daughters: Jessica, Kayla, Lydia, and Monica. He never admitted to having a favorite, but all signs point to his eldest; the two of them shared a special closeness. All four girls made it their mission to take care of their dad long before he got sick. When the first grandchild, Sam, was born, “Poppa” John was able to play a special role in Sam’s life, and was present in Sam’s childhood in a role that was closer to a dad than a grandfather.

John would have walked through fire for his girls, and did everything in his power to guide and support them. His favorite way to be of service was putting his mechanical savvy to work, fixing broken items, installing just about anything, and solving the tricky problems. He was incredibly proud that both daughters Kayla and Lydia had large collections of power tools, and put their dad’s knowledge into practice through carpentry, electrical, and problem-solving around the house.

He impressed upon his daughters the importance of honesty and truth—you always knew where you stood with John, and he was never the type to bullshit you. He was the type to drop F-bombs in mixed company, tell a perfect stranger how to do a job properly, and come over to your house and fix/install/assemble anything without asking for payment in return. John’s gregarious personality meant that he made friends everywhere he went.

His love for risk-taking wasn’t dampered when he got the switch for riding his tricycle on the highway; John loved cliff jumping and whitewater rafting, and took great pleasure in operating large machinery in questionable ways. He abhorred leisure time, but when he found himself with time to spare, John loved attending the Iowa State Fair, shooting pool with his friends and family, road tripping to the Dean Bottom with a case of beer and some guns and ammo for target practice, and camping (not always with his clothes on).

In March of 2018, at the age of 68, John finally retired from working full-time. Just 9 months later, the cause of the weakness he’d been experiencing in his right leg was finally identified as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In retirement, even after becoming wheelchair bound, John enjoyed a good vodka-based cocktail or shot of Fireball, cheesy spaghetti westerns, teasing his six grandchildren, and the buttery-smooth and soulful music of Savage Garden. John specifically requested that his celebration of life include copious amounts of booze and 90s pop music.

John is preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his brother, Dale (Linda) Fine of Ankeny; daughters Jessica Fine of Miami, FL; Kayla (Grant) Bousum of Johnston, IA; Lydia Fine (Nathan Timmel) of North Liberty, IA; and Monica Fine (Sean Couch) of Myrtle Beach, SC; ex-wife Diane (Nick) Fine-Anderson of Johnston, IA; six grandchildren: Sam Fine; Alaina, Kellan, and Kemper Bousum; and Hillary and Truman Timmel; nephews Derek and Aaron Fine; and a multitude of cousins and extended family.

Show Your Support

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the ALS Association of Iowa and the It Gets Better Project.

Service Details

John always loved a good party, and he requested that a celebration of life be held after his passing instead of a formal funeral.

The Celebration of Life will take place at the Bloomfield Country Club in Bloomfield, Iowa, on Saturday, August 6, 2022. The festivities begin at 5pm.

(Wear your party shoes and bring your koozies and your good memories of John.)  

Share a Memory

After losing a loved one, it’s incredibly comforting to hear how they made an impact while they were alive. Whether through their work, friendships, or leadership, no memory is too small to ease the grief of loss.

Please take a moment to share a thought, favorite memory, funny story, or how John left his mark on your life.

Photo Album

John and his daughters pulled together some of their favorite photos to share with you. Go check ’em out!