John R. “Taco” Presley

John R. “Taco” Presley, age 53, of Dubuque, IA, completed his earthly journey on March 22, 2022, at UnityPoint-Finley Hospital, surrounded by his loving family.  To honor John’s life, a private family service will be held at a later date.  The Tri-State Cremation Center is humbly serving John’s family.


John was born on January 27, 1969, in Dubuque, IA, a son to Wayne and Judy (Shimp) Presley-Gatena.  John was born with a fun-loving spirit and a wonderful sense of humor (which even possessed a mischievous bone when deemed necessary).  He was a gentle giant who loved life almost as much as he did his family and friends.  He was united in marriage to his beautiful bride, Kelly Trimble, on June 27, 2011, in Dubuque, after courting her for 8 years prior to watch their love blossom and grow into its predestined perfection. 


John also had an insatiable love for music from a very early age and he would earnestly invest over 20 years of his passion into a career while enjoying every hour he was working.  Beginning in the 80’s, John was a legendary deejay on the Dubuque and East Dubuque scene.  He worked for several venues who all appreciated not only his dependability, but also his knowledge of the history of recorded music both forward and backwards, and had the catalog to back it up.  His ever-growing collection of records, tapes, and cd’s, along with his massive music video collection made each and every stop into the establishments he worked a unique and fun experience.  John simply loved what he was doing and it showed. 


Along with his love for music came an equal passion for radio broadcasting.  Following his days as a club deejay, John realized his dream of working in radio when he was hired to work for 97.3 FM as a board operator for remote and live sports broadcasts, along with other essential in-studio responsibilities.  John spent over 20 years in local radio with FM stations 101.1, 97.3 and 92.9, as well as with AM 1370, where he especially loved co-producing, sharing his wealth of knowledge, and managing the board operations for the Saturday Night Cruise.  It’s difficult to even imagine life without our dear “Taco” weaving his music and magic throughout our days ahead.  We pray to find peace in time, but for now we seek even simple moments where the memories which he leaves behind will help to ease the pain lingering on our heavy hearts.  Thank you, John, for being such a bright light in so many lives over the years and may you enjoy the sweetest Diet Mt. Dew that Heaven has to offer until we all see your joyful smile once again.      


Those left behind to cherish the memory of John include,


his loving wife,

Kelly Presley, Dubuque, IA;


his mother,

Judy Gatena, Dubuque, IA;


his brother,

Stephen Presley, Dubuque, IA;


his best-friend,

Steve Hemmer, Dubuque, IA;


his favorite feline companion,



along with numerous extended family and friends.


John was preceded in death by his father, Wayne Presley; his step-father, Alfred “Bud” Gatena; and his grandparents.


In honor of John’s memory, donations may be made in his name to the Dubuque Regional Humane Society, 4242 Chavenelle Road, Dubuque, IA, 52002.


John’s family would like to thank the nurses and staff in the Finley Hospital ICU, especially Michelle, Diane, and Claudia for all of your professional care and sincere compassion you so generously shared with John and his family.  Also, a very heartfelt thank you to Steve Hemmer for all of your support, friendship, and patience through these last months.  Please know that all of you made some of the most difficult days we’ve ever had to face just a little more bearable and we cannot thank you enough.  May God bless you all for your kindnesses!  


Online condolences may be shared with John’s family at

To honor John’s life, a private family service will be held at a later date. 

9 comments on “John R. “Taco” Presley
  1. Liz Picker says:

    Dear family of “Taco”. I work at Radio Dubuque and have enjoyed working with “Taco” for years. His “Love” for music always showed through. He will be missed by all of us. God Bless!!!

    • Mark McDonald says:

      I went to high school with “taco”and would run into him here and there he was always smiling…may the good Lord welcome him with open arms and may he provide comfort to the family during the difficult days ahead

  2. Rob Anglin says:

    Today is a sad day in the world of radio. Anyone who was blessed enough to be friends with this great guy knows we have truly lost a great soul here on earth. I looked forward to the days that I would walk by one of the studios to find Taco at the board. It was a must to drop in and chat for a while. Taco made this world a better place. God bless your journey to heaven buddy. Don McLean’s song American Pie, comes to me in this moment, so I leave you with this lyric and thought: “A long long time ago, I can remember how that music used to make me smile. And I knew if I had my chance that I could make those people dance. And maybe they’d be happy for a while.” Goodbye Taco, we will miss you. You made a difference.

  3. Veronique Fernandez says:

    Our condolences to our sister, Kelly. Sending you love and strength always!!

  4. Tim Lary says:

    My sincere condolences to Kelly and all of Taco’s family. I enjoyed my time working with him and had a great respect for what he did here at the radio stations. He took great satisfaction making sure things sounded top notch on the air during every thing he helped produce including our sports broadcasts. The job he did behind the scene as a producer was incredible! He was an amazing individual who despite the health challenges he faced didn’t let it stop him from doing his best. Thank you Taco.

  5. Chris Clarke says:

    RIP Taco, I haven’t seen you in years but you were always a great friend.

  6. Ginger says:

    Although I didn’t know Taco personally I listen to the Saturday night cruise and here his name all the time Thank you Taco for your great work may you rest in peace and God Bless you and your family. May you find comfort in God’s name Amen

  7. Beanie Baumhover says:

    I knew John for many years and every time I saw him or called into the Saturday night live He would always say *Hey Beanie* Sorry for your loss he was a great guy….

    Beanie Baumhover

  8. Lynn Hoftender says:

    I didn’t know Taco, but I know his motherJudy and I send her and the family my deepest sympathy and prayers for all to get through this difficult time. My heart hurts for your loss!

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