John Craig Arko

John Craig Arko, 79, passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by family, after a hard-fought battle with cancer on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Eden Prairie, Minn.

With great sadness, we say good-bye to a great man who strove to leave this world a better place than he found it. He dedicated his time, energy, love and wisdom to that end. John leaves the legacy of grace, success and high moral character, as shown by his non-profit work.

John founded the Minnesota Blades, a non-profit youth hockey program, in 1989. Over the next 30 years, John built the Blades into one of the strongest youth hockey organizations in North America, with alumni including 200 NHL players and hundreds more NCAA Division 1 players.

John was a long-standing member of North Star Therapy Animals. He served the children and adults at Methodist and Children’s Hospitals. Visiting weekly, John and Mia, his beloved Sheltie, brought smiles and more as their gift to patients and their families.

John believed that doing the right things for the right reason leads to success. John felt deep responsibility for the development of young Blades players as people, stretching their abilities and attitudes through excellent coaching, highly-competitive tournaments, and international travel. He also loved to spend time with his family and friends, to fish and to travel. John’s garden was his pride and joy, behind only his family, his trained therapy dogs and The Blades.

After a career managing and supervising for Sears and Dayton’s Home Store, and owning and operating franchises such as Paul Revere’s Pizza in Minnetonka, John went back to school at age 48 to obtain his Broker’s license. He began managing investments at John Kinnard Investments before moving to Stifel Nicolaus in Wayzata where he retired as Vice President, Investments in the summer of 2017.

John is survived by his beloved wife of 23 years, Ardyth Arko; his sister, Nancy (Charlie) Russell of Portland, Ore.; his daughter, Tracy (Paul) Reiland of Alexandria, Minn.; his son, John Cory Arko of Shakopee, Minn.; his stepdaughter, Jaime Fransway (Brian Billingsley) of Golden Valley, Minn.; and his three grandchildren, Kobe Reiland, Cohen Reiland and Alexander Fransway.

A Celebration of Life will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, at John and Ardie’s home, 6651 Moorland Drive, Eden Prairie, MN.

John will be interred at Greenwood Cemetery, Virginia, Minn.

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