Wayne John Longtin, Sr. was born March 21, 1943, in Warba, Minn., the son of Lucille Johnson. Wayne was raised by Darrell and Christine Linn. He graduated from Grand Rapids High School in 1961. He later attended Hibbing Community College in Hibbing, Minn.
Music was his life. He was a world class acoustic guitar and bass player for many bands throughout the country during his music career.
In 1993 he attempted to quit music but found that the everyday work world didn't want him. At 50 years old, it seemed too late to start a new career.
In 1996 he set out on a cross-country hitch-hiking trip to see if God was real, the only other answer he could think of for his situation. For three months he traveled, experiencing the Love of God. At one point, in the mountains of Utah, he sat down and applied for a job with God. At the end of that summer he found a steady job in Fargo, N.D. Minimum wage, but a job at last. That job lasted for six months then the plant shut down.
Frustrated, he ended up homeless, living under a bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Wayne gives all credit to God for saving him from that situation. He was waiting in line at a shelter on Sunday morning when a drunk began bad-mouthing a church. Within two weeks he had a job and a place to live.
Drawn by music again he became active in the church's music ministry and eventually became co-director of a jobs and housing program for the homeless.
In 1998 he married Wendy Matte, who he had known 25 years earlier when he was first starting out in music.
In 1998 Wayne and Wendy founded New Roads Ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the homeless. They traveled for the next five years working at homeless shelters and doing street ministry. In 2003 they landed in Litchfield, Minn., where their ministry has flourished.
Considering himself retired from music, Wayne was drawn into playing guitar with a church group at a nursing home in March of 2004. The activities director at the nursing home talked him into coming back to entertain the residents on his own. That one experience has grown into playing music full-time again.
"I've been a musician most of my life and don't regret any of it. It's a hard business and you have to be willing to accept the ups with the downs. I've worked hard labor jobs, rode freight trains, picked fruit and slept in my car a lot. All for the love of a life style that is un-giving in the end."
"But I've found one thing that is constant. God. He has directed me where he wants me and where I want to be. When I applied for that job with him I had no idea life could be so great. There is no greater joy than ministering to hurting people. No greater joy than writing and performing the songs he gives me. With the love and encouragement of God and my wife Wendy, the future is greater than I could have even imagined. But then the Bible says that will happen so it shouldn't be a surprise."
Wayne celebrated his induction into the Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame Sept. 2, 2009.
Survivors include his wife Wendy Longtin, of Le Mars; three children: Jody Longtin, of Bovey, Minn., Wayne John Longtin, Jr. and his wife, Susan, of Wirt, Minn., and Michele Gruss, of Edwall, Wash.; seven grandchildren: Krissy Fritze, Genna McGovern, Arial Longtin, Patrick Fideldy, Eric Heinzer-Clark, Darren Clark, and Amanda Badell; several great-grandchildren; three brothers: Glen Longtin and his wife, Debbie, of Calumet, Minn., Phillip Linn and his wife, Judy, of Kelly Lake, Minn., and Michael Linn, of Minneapolis, Minn.; and several nieces and nephews.
"We love you Mr. Poopsie!!!"
A Celebration Time of music and memories will be from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday at Rejoice! Community Church in Le Mars. Abiding by his wishes, he was cremated. Arrangements are with the Carlsen Funeral Home of Le Mars.
Expressions of sympathy may be extended to the family through www.carlsenfuneralhome.com.