Hospy Hall of Fame member and MLBA Board Member since 1986, John (Jack) Lanners passed away peacefully with his family surrounding him on Wednesday, November 7th. Jack had a cancerous brain tumor removed in 2016 and had been bravely fighting the disease into remission for over a year when symptoms began to return a few months ago.
The funeral was held at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Woodbury on Tuesday, November 14th with the Celebration of Life afterwards at the Pool & Yacht Club in Lilydale. It was very well attended with Jack’s large family including his wife of over 41 years, Norma, and hundreds of friends and business colleagues. Jack’s brother Alan gave a beautiful eulogy at the beginning of the funeral mass and several more family members and friends spoke at the Celebration of Life.
Jack was the longest standing member of the MLBA Board of Directors, he owned several MGM Liquor stores in the Metro area with his home base the MGM Wine & Spirits near 494 & Valley Creek in his home town of Woodbury. Jack was an invaluable member of the board with his quick wit and his intelligence. MLBA Executive Director Tony Chesak said, “In the 16 years I have been with the MLBA, I always relied heavily on Jack for guidance. I learned so much from him and I’m just devastated that he is no longer with us. My thoughts and prayers go out to Norma and Jack’s family, friends and colleagues. He will be tremendously missed by all who knew him.”
After graduating Marquette University in 1975, Lanners and his brother Alan bought a hardware store in Wisconsin. There, he got married to Norma and they started a family. He was involved in the hardware business for five years until 1980, when he became manager of one of the first MGM liquor stores on White Bear Avenue on the East Side of St. Paul. In 1988, Lanners bought the company and began work to expand to more locations in Minnesota. At the time of his death, Jack owned five MGM locations. But at his peak, Lanners owned 15 stores.
Lanners was highly involved in his home town of Woodbury beginning in the mid 90’s. He joined the Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce and transferred to the Woodbury Lions from the Battle Creek Lions Club in St. Paul where he was a former president. He helped bring a YMCA to Woodbury, and has been a big boost to the Friends of St. Paul Public Library. He’s a supporter of Washington County libraries. He served on the Center for the American Experiment board. He’s also been a Woodbury Citizen of the Year. Jack also served in the Pawlenty Administration where he was the Chairman of the Metropolitan Airports Commission from January, 2007 until February, 2011 where he had been a MAC board member since 2003.