Former Pioneer Hockey Beat Writer John McRae Passes

When we moved to Bemidji, and I took the job covering Beaver mens hockey, one of the first people I met in the press box was John McRae. He worked for the Bemidji Pioneer covering games and writing great stories. From day #1, you could John was a genuine, honest, and great human being. Over the years, John would join us on our pregame shows or intermission shows. During the Frozen Four, John was a staple in the BRN’s coverage. John passed away earlier this week at the age of 65.

Here’s the obit as published in the Pioneer

John James McRae III, 65, of Bemidji, MN died Sunday, June 26, 2022 at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, ND.

A Celebration of Life will be held 4-7:00pm, Sunday, July 3, 2022 at Slim’s Bar and Grill in Bemidji, MN. Arrangements are with the Cease Family Funeral Home in Bemidji.

Born on December 2, 1956, in Portland, Maine, he was the son of Sheldon Sr. and Donna (Langer) McRae. At the age of two months his family moved to Bemidji, MN where he was raised and educated. John was a talented multi-sport athlete at Bemidji High School – where he competed in track, cross country, baseball, and basketball. He graduated in 1975 and went on to attend North Dakota State University where he graduated with a degree in English. He then spent time in Alaska working for the Nome Nugget newspaper in the late 1980’s. Following his return from Alaska, John wrote for newspapers in Chaska and Shakopee. He returned to Bemidji in 1990 where he wrote for the Bemidji Pioneer, covering multiple levels of area sports and a highly anticipated weekly outdoors column. John was a very gifted and talented writer whose stories had a huge impact on everyone who read them. He was gifted with words and telling stories. This obituary will never do him justice. He married Kristen Neuenfeldt on April 2, 1994, in Las Vegas, NV; together they had two daughters. He went on to work at Bemidji Community Education as the Youth Sports Coordinator. He was a passionate supporter of youth sports – always encouraging kids to have fun and participate. He was also an avid outdoorsman, with endless bins of hunting gear and baseball caps. His favorite time of year was the fall hunting season. He enjoyed being in the woods hunting with his dogs, fishing, spearing, ice fishing, and golfing. He had a wealth of knowledge whether it be local or professional sports, outdoor pursuits, and trivia. John had a positive and lasting impact on everyone who was lucky enough to meet him. John thought he was the lucky one, but we know we were the lucky ones.

He is survived by his: Wife, Kristen McRae of Bemidji, MN, Daughters, Shelby (Jordan) Noskowiak of Madison, WI, Libby McRae of Indianapolis, IN, Mother, Donna McRae of Bemidji, MN, Siblings, Sheldon McRae Jr. of Bemidji, MN, Cindy (Bruce) Hanno of Le Mars, IA, Patricia (John Freeman) McRae of Lake Oswego, OR, Kristi (David) Pond of Shakopee, MN, Father-in-law, Jim Neuenfeldt of Bemidji, MN, Hank the dog, Numerous Nieces, Nephews, Great-Nieces, Great-Nephews, and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his father Sheldon McRae Sr., Uncle and Aunt Gordon and Viola McRae, and Mother-in-law Marcia Neuenfeldt.

Condolences may be left at

The last time that I saw John was right before the Beavers Semifinal Series with Bowling Green in 2020. I recorded a segment with him for Bucky’s Legends. Before I could even edit the audio, the season was shut down because of Covid. Prior to recording this segment, John told me that he rarely missed listening to a game at the “Tundra Bar” in his garage next to his pickup! John McRae Bucky’s Legends Raw

Never take for granted that the next time you want to talk to someone, that they’ll still be with us! John, you will be missed!