Obituary: John R. Van Dreese

June 20, 1938 ~ December 27, 2022

Longtime Sturgeon Bay businessman, John Robert Van Dreese, 84 years, died Tuesday morning, December 27, 2022.

He was born June 20, 1938 in Sturgeon Bay, the son of the late Robert and Myrtle (Peterson) Van Dreese. John graduated from Sturgeon Bay High School in 1957 where he was a standout athlete. He held scoring records in basketball for many years and loved to golf (having had a hole in one). After graduation from high school, John worked full time with his father at “Mike’s” Bar and in 1969 became the iconic Van’s Bar. In 1978, he expanded his operation to Manitowoc at Green Street Bar and opened the original Pudgy Seagull on Third Avenue in Sturgeon Bay. His sons, Jon and Steve, would eventually go into business with him and continue the Van’s tradition.

John had a passion for coaching youth baseball, and his success made him highly sought after for state tournament team play each season. He loved a good card game with friends and family and sitting in the sun by the pool being outdoors.

John will be missed by his four children, Wendy Van Dreese, Jon (Laura) Van Dreese, Steve (Jennifer) Van Dreese all of Sturgeon Bay, Robert (Jacqueline) Van Dreese of De Pere; and their mother, Faye Van Dreese; seven grandchildren, Nicholas (Emily) Van Dreese and David (Lindsey) Van Dreese, Steffany (Michael) Kohlbeck and Samantha Van Dreese, Sinead, Ciara, and Pearce Van Dreese; three great-grandchildren; nephew, Jason (Melissa) Christenson; and family.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Lynn Christenson; and other relatives.

At John’s request there will be no public services. Remember him in your own way – at work in his businesses or playing cards, on a ball field coaching Sturgeon Bay Youth, sitting in the sun, or walking the golf course. He loved his family, he loved the town of Sturgeon Bay, and all the joy living here gave him.

Huehns Funeral Home, Inc. & Door County Crematory LLC in Sturgeon Bay are assisting the Van Dreese family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of John may be shared with his family through his tribute page at