Meet John Felten, a dedicated Billings TrailNet member who not only supports Billings TrailNet through monthly donations but has created a unique plaque to honor Billings TrailNet’s most generous donors, who have personally given more than $1,000 to the cause.
John’s journey is an inspiring testament to the power of community involvement and the joy of pursuing one’s passions.
From Air Force Radar Technician to Renaissance Man
John’s life story is a remarkable tapestry woven with diverse experiences. His journey began with an eight-year stint in the United States Air Force, where he specialized in radar maintenance and electronics. His enlistment took him from Mississippi to Havre, Montana, just a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, an experience that instilled in him a sense of accountability like never before. Next, there was a year stationed in Iceland, and John eventually settled in Billings, where he embarked on a remarkable journey through various careers, embracing everything from flight training to computer operations, and even sales and estimating roles.
Despite his eclectic career path, John’s most significant life change occurred when he met Barbara in 1996. Their shared New York roots and common interests laid the foundation for a lasting friendship that eventually blossomed into a loving marriage. Their union not only brought them closer but also enriched John’s family life as he embraced Barbara’s two young children.
A Lifelong Love for Bicycling
John’s passion for cycling has been a constant in his life since he was a child. He began riding at the age of 10, and by the time he settled in Billings in 1973, cycling became his preferred mode of transportation to college. Over the years, he found solace in the rhythm of pedaling and the beauty of Montana’s landscapes. His love for cycling deepened as he started watching the Tour de France and took part in fundraising rides like the Tour de Cure.
In recent years, John has continued to ride regularly, even after undergoing total knee replacement surgery. Cycling keeps him active and healthy, and he firmly believes that staying active is key to enjoying life. His dedication to cycling is evident in his exploration of Montana’s roads and trails, from the challenging Fritz Hill to the scenic Shiloh Conservation Area.
Embracing Tandem Biking with Barbara
One of John’s most cherished activities is tandem biking with Barbara. They have owned three tandems over the years, with their current e-bike tandem providing a new level of enjoyment. Tandem biking allows them to explore together, covering greater distances and tackling hills with ease. Their tandem adventures have taken them on memorable journeys, including a ride to Yellowstone National Park, and have strengthened their bond as a couple.
Supporting Billings TrailNet
John’s commitment to the community goes beyond cycling and woodworking. His support for Billings TrailNet is a testament to his belief in the organization’s mission. He recognizes the value of safe and accessible trails in the community and has been a monthly donor for several years. For John, it’s not just about the joy of cycling; it’s about creating a better, healthier, and more connected community for all.
Marquetry: A Labor of Love
John’s woodworking journey led him to the art of marquetry, a meticulous craft that involves creating images using thin veneer pieces layered on a substrate. His passion for marquetry was ignited during a class in 2012, and he hasn’t looked back since. He’s honed his skills through self-teaching and advanced workshops, incorporating his unique style and precision into every piece.
Marquetry isn’t just a hobby for John; it’s a form of artistic expression that requires discipline and patience. His creations range from intricate furniture pieces to stunning decorative plaques, like the one he crafted for Billings TrailNet. This plaque serves as a testament to his craftsmanship and his commitment to the organization.
A Life Well-Lived and Continuously Inspired
John Felten’s life journey is a testament to the value of embracing passions, supporting the community, and continually seeking growth and new experiences. His contributions to Billings TrailNet, through both his monthly donations and his marquetry artwork, reflect his dedication to making Billings a better place for all its residents.
In an age where communities thrive through the efforts of individuals like John, his story reminds us of the power of dedication, creativity, and selflessness in making our cities more vibrant and connected. We can all learn from John’s example and strive to make our communities better, one pedal stroke or artful creation at a time.