Jan Lew Johnson

Jan Johnson was only 57 years young, when he unexpectedly passed away in his sleep on April 29, 2016, at his home in Prior Lake, MN.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Friday, May 20, at 11 am, with a time of gathering starting at 9:30 am, at Ballard-Sunder Funeral and Cremation 4565 Pleasant Street SE, Prior Lake. The service will be led by Life Tribute Specialist, Jean Breeggemann.

In Baraboo, WI, Lewis James and Viola Katherine (Meyer) Johnson, proudly welcomed into their arms a baby boy they named Jan Lew Johnson. Growing up in the small town of North Freedom, WI, he was the youngest of three children. As a boy, Jan enjoyed fishing at the mill pond and the nearby river. In high school, he enjoyed participating in football, basketball and track. But Jan’s true enjoyment and pastime was driving around and making memories in his light blue VW bug!

After graduating from Baraboo High School in 1977, Jan furthered his education at Madison Area Technical College, earning a degree in Electronics. First working for MPI (Magnetic Peripherals Incorporated, a subsidiary of Control Data) for many years, he spent over 20 years working for AeroSystems Engineering. He truly enjoyed his job and the true friendships he made there over the years.

Unbeknownst to Jan, there was a classmate that had her eyes on him for many years. Her name was Theresa Miner. Finally, late in their senior year, Jan and Theresa connected and their relationship grew from there. On September 29, 1979 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Jan and Theresa were married. They were later blessed with two precious children, Erin and Nathan. The Johnson family first lived in Eden Prairie, before settling their roots in Prior Lake, MN.

Through the years, Jan and his family enjoyed a lot of camping in Minnesota State Parks. First experiencing the tenting life, to later stepping up to a camper. The family also enjoyed trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, where Jan would also love taking Erin and Nate on individual trips. He enjoyed coaching Nate’s baseball team, attending his sporting events and fishing with him. Jan and Erin shared a love of music and attended many concerts together. His family was able to get him on a plane for the first time to visit Erin and her husband Shane in Baltimore. Jan and Theresa relished the driveway parties and backyard bonfires with friends and neighbors, working on projects around the house and most of all just being together.

Jan had many interests throughout the years. He dabbled in fly fishing, duck and deer hunting and wood working. He had a passion for canoeing and camping, taking many trips to the BWCA with friends and even on his own. In recent years, Jan had become a true friend to many on the BWCA website sharing his expansive knowledge with others. He excelled over the years with his photography and enjoyed a good practical joke. He also loved feeding and watching birds, drinking a beer and having a smoke.

Jan could be quick to temper, but even quicker to forgive. Once you knew him, your greeting went from a handshake to a hug. Jan had a thoughtful, charismatic, softhearted and loving personality.

Forever missed, Jan will be forever loved by his beloved wife, Theresa (Miner) Johnson; daughter, Erin (Shane) Slama; son, Nathan (Kacy Fahrmann) Johnson; sister, Fayette (Bud) Knoop; brother, Don (Sharkie) Johnson; many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

Jan was welcomed home in heaven by his parents, Lewis and Viola Johnson.

Ballard-Sunder Funeral Home and Cremation, Prior Lake Chapel, proudly served and cared for the Johnson family. www.ballardsunderfuneral.com

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Condolence Messages

  1. Kim Klopfenstein

    Thoughts and prayers go out to the entire family. Though Jan & I never met in person, we were friends online.
    AKA: JoeWilderness
    Zeeland, MI

  2. Thoughts and prayers to Jan’s (Kanoes) family and friends. Paddle on my friend I will miss you.

    tony tooley

  3. My thoughts and prayers are with you today. I, too, met Jan through BWCA.COM and am blessed to count him among my friends. He will be missed by all who knew him.
    Chuck Elton (Bellolake) Washburn, WI

  4. Dennis Albrecht

    My deepest sympathy to family and friends. I will miss the ‘Kanoes’ posts on BWCA.com
    BWCA.com member

  5. Dave Andersen (Canoe42)

    You felt like a long time friend the first time we met. Going to miss you. Paddle on my friend.

  6. Terri Lawson (aka Trix)

    Jan was one of a kind and I thought of him as my brother. I will truly miss his infectious laugh and kind spirit, as well as our BWCA.com “Mini Wingnight” get togethers. Going to miss you Huge. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Hugs sent to all.

  7. May God give you strength during this time. Im so sorry for your loss. I met Jan a few times in person and online chat hundreds and hundreds of time. Its amazing how you can form a bond with someone so quickly and jans wit and passion and love for those around him was amazing. He could be quick to temper but just as quick to forgive and offer a friendly hand. he will truly be missed by us here at BWCA.COM but even more so he will be missed as a friend. With jan once he knew you there were no handshakes, it was hugs all the way. Rest in peace my Brother From Another Mother

  8. Allan Short (mirth)

    Deepest sympathies to Jan’s spouse and family. While I did not know him “in real life” I enjoyed knowing his online presence at bwca.com. He had a wealth of knowledge and leaves a large void in his absence.

  9. Gary and Theresa Wenzel

    Jan, Erin and Nate:
    Words alone can not convey our deepest sympathy. Jan was a wonderful friend, neighbor and a great man. All of our deep discussions to solve the worlds problems and His laughter and presence will be greatly missed at our driveway parties and bonfires. Remember we are here for you all. Bunches of HUGS
    The Wenzel’s

  10. The influence that this man had on the wilderness paddling community at bwca.com is immeasurable. I can only believe that this gentle spirit extended to his personal life as well. Godspeed, my friend. I will miss your sharp wit (and your IPA suggestions). May peace surround and comfort all those who loved him.
    David Knudsen
    Perham, MN

  11. Condolences to Jan’s family and dear friends,
    I enjoyed working with Jan and his sense of humor. He will be sorely missed at AeroSystems Engineering.

  12. Lisa Thompson

    I met Jan through BWCA.com. He was the first person to welcome me to the BWCA.com family. I also was blessed to have met with him many times in person at “wing nights” and camp outs. My kids met him & instantly loved him! Not only was he a powerful voice & advocate for the BWCA.com family & wilderness canoe-camping, he was kind, generous, forgiving and a blast to hang out with around the fire or in a chat-room. I will miss his sense of humor, wit, knowledge and advice. My heart aches for the loss of such a great man and for, you Theresa, Erin, Nate & the rest of his family. I pray that God will give you comfort, peace and strength during this painful time. Condolences and hugs go out to your family from mine.
    Lisa Thompson (campnscrap)

  13. The family and friends of Jan (Kanoes as I knew him) have my most sincere sympathies in this time of loss. I will miss his wisdom, experiences, and humor on bwca.com. Once he pointed out that I grew up and lived about 30 minutes from where he did in WI and I’d always hoped to meet with him and have some good talks. May you and all of us cherish his memory.


  14. Ben Cardelli aka nctry

    Jan was a irreplaceable friend. He’s like no other. He was kind, caring and yes highly opinionated… When I see in print hahahahah, I hear his unmistakable laugh. I’m so sorry for your huge loss Theresa, Erin, and Nate. You were his number one! He always referred to his family with great respect. My prayers are with you… Thanks for sharing Jan with us crazy internet friends on bwca. Com.

  15. Deepest condolences to Jan’s family. He touched and inspired so many of us. He will be missed but not forgotten during lifes paddle into the unknown.

  16. Theresa and family, I am so sorry for Jan’s sudden loss.

    Theresa, I’ve only met you twice but you have my deepest condolences. I’ve gotten to know Jan over the past five years through his postings, various get togethers, and campouts, and I count him as a true friend. I was really looking forward to many more.

    The guy works at the place that had the recall.

    • Oops, I was trying to identify myself to Theresa from a conversation we had. That last sentence should read: The guy THAT works at the place that had the recall.

  17. Janet McKeegan Ramsey

    Theresa and family,
    Prayers to all of you at this time. I hope you can find comfort in the memories. I will remember him as the bright blond with striped pants from North Freedom Grade School. He had a beautiful smile.

  18. Sheryl Hindermann (mocha)

    Theresa, Nate and Erin,
    So sorry to hear of the sudden passing of your husband and father. Jan was certainly a character. When i first met him in chat i didn’t know if he was man or woman… just Jan… so i asked, “Jan as is Jan Brady or Jan as in Jan Stenerud?” He was tickled that someone would liken him to the football player. I met him in person when he came up to the BWCA with Diva and JB to surprise the crew at Camp Izzy, and i gave him a flying moose sticker.
    His presence will be felt for a very long time.

    God Bless your family

  19. Steve Freeman (Bogwalker)

    Jan had a huge heart and will be missed. I offer thoughts of peace and healing to his family.

    I knew Jan and had paddled with him. He welcomed everyone and always spoke his mind. After spending time with Jan you knew where he stood on any topic. Jan will be missed not only for his knowledge and willingness to share in it but for his heart. He loved life, loved his wife Theresa, loved his family, loved his friends and loved his time in the wilderness.

    We will paddle again my friend. I raise a Ranger in your honor.

    Steve Freeman aka Bogwalker

  20. Darryll Shockley

    another member from bwca.com. jan is an icon on this site, i call him the piorneer of the site. he will truely be missed. i never meet him but chat a few times and he always remembered me by name. mt prayers to the family and all friends. Darryll

  21. Jan’s expertise and technical skills will be missed at ASE. He was a great person, fun to work and spend time with.

  22. Shirley Kallsen

    Theresa I am so saddened by your sudden loss.

    I never met Jan, but I worked with you for so many years and watched your children grow, I feel that I did know him.

    I will be out of town on May 20th, but I am now and will be thinking of you. I will be there to welcome you back to work.

    Stay strong, Terry.

  23. Annette Grossenbacher

    I recall meeting your family at Miner family events several years ago. (Mark is married to my daughter, Robbin.)

    My deepest sympathy to your family. You are in my thoughts and in my prayers.

    Annette Grossenbacher
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

  24. I’m another person across the country that Jan touched through his love of the outdoors. I can’t express how much he is missed and wanted you to know that he and his family and friends are in our prayers

    Bill Curry

  25. Gary Olson (Savage Voyageur)

    My condolences go out to Theresa, Erin, Nate and family. He was a friend and one of a kind. I can’t count the good times and laughs I had with Jan. He will be truly missed. Paddle on my friend.

  26. I have been Jan’s co-worker for many years. It was a joy knowing him as a person and a co-worker. Jan will be greatly missed in the electrical shop at ASE. My sincere condolences go out to the entire Johnson family.

  27. Bill Brumfield (Maxx)

    Even though I only met Jan in person one time, it’s hard to explain what he meant to me. He gained nothing for his kindness and friendship, and that was OK with him. The measure of a life is this: Is the world a better place because he was here? I will argue that Jan made this a better place for a lot of people. God bless all of you, may you somehow find peace in your sorrow and know that you were blessed for a while. Just think of the people who never knew him, for them we should grieve.

  28. Theresa,

    Please accept our sincere condolences for the loss of your husband Jan. He was way too young. I wanted to be there on Friday, but I can not. We are very sorry for your loss.

    Bob & Gerri Mead

  29. Karen Andrusick - Hawbakers

    First of all my condolences to Theresa and the family for your loss.

    I too, met Jan as “kanoes” on BWCA.com. He was the first person to welcome me to the site when I first posted. There were plans that year, 2011 to camp out at Rebecca Lake. When I saw Jan post that he would be bringing the paper plates and utensils, I thought what an organized person – must be a woman! haha But I soon learned otherwise! At our last get together in March, we celebrated my birthday. I didn’t expect anything but Jan had a small gift for me! He handed me some gear twist ties and said, “I was in Fleet Farm and I thought of you!” so sweet
    Thankfully because of this wonderful BWCA website, Jan’s posts will still be there on some of the old threads as I found out earlier this week. I needed some info for my upcoming canoe trip and found a post that Jan had shared his experience with permethrin. It was very useful to me. So even now I am still learning things from kanoes.
    They say friends are the family you choose and I felt fortunate to be included in Jan’s circle of friends and he treated us all as family. Thanks for the memories, Jan. You will be missed but not forgotten.

  30. Rick Lafleur (Boppa)

    Dear Theresa and Family,
    He was a friend and our shared enjoyment of canoeing brought us together. We shared our concerns, information and opinions on-line often. We only met in person twice, but I cherish both “Bear Hugs” we exchanged.
    My condolences to the family for this loss, he was loved and cherished, not to bad of a legacy, he just left us to soon.

    Rick (Boppa) Lafleur

  31. Bruce Bildsten

    Jan was a such a good friend in high school. He had such a big heart, great sense of humor, and then there was that laugh. We had such fun times driving through the Baraboo bluffs in his bug, running track and just goofing off with Greenie, Platt, McGann and the gang. I knew when he met Theresa that they were made for each other. With family, work and life, I hadn’t seen Jan in many years. But from the descriptions others have written I’m sure a reunion would have made it seem like we had seen each other yesterday. Especially since we shared a mutual love of water and the outdoors. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Theresa and family. Jan was a good one.

  32. I just learned of Jan’s passing on BWCA.COM.
    He was always such a fascinating member. I always wanted to meet him.

    I bought a tent from him a few years ago. I’ll always think of him when I use it.

    My condolences for losing him so young.

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