Valdemar “Wally” Peder Johansen
4.27.1922 – 11.2.2014
Valdemar was born in Luck,
Wisconsin to parents Jens Ansgar &
Frederikke Johansen. He was one of 5
children. Halvdan, Ane Marie, Christian
all preceded him in death, leaving sister Johanne to mourn. He passed peacefully early Sunday morning,
11/2/2014 at Sacred Heart Hospital
in Eau Claire
from complications of surgery. His
heart slowed to a stop as if he gently had his foot on the brake as he
approached his destination. Valdemar
lived 92 years with good health and a big smile. He was living in
at the time of his death. Belmond, Iowa
A memorial service & internment of ashes will be held on December 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm at
in Luck, WI. Coffee will follow at West Denmark Parrish
Valdemar attended school at
WI. School was important, but community
in those days revolved around the Laketown School & Luck
and the youth groups associated with the church. His mother was one of 9 children with 7 sisters;
all but one of those sisters raised their families in the West
Denmark Church West
Denmark area. About 39
first cousins called West Denmark home and
they were all close friends and enjoyed spending their youth together in work
Wally enjoyed folk dancing as a young man and he was part of a group that performed in Danish costume. But he really loved dancing of all kinds, and he shared fun stories of Dunham and
Wilson’s, Calderwood, West Sweden, and other dance halls in the area. Valdemar played the violin as a young man and
just recently put new strings on it and was hoping to give it another try.
He went by ‘Wally’ but he always preferred Valdemar and it made him smile when new acquaintances pronounced it correctly. Conversely, he did not appreciate when anyone pronounced it as ‘Vlademeer’, and he would give the unlucky person the business if they made that mistake.
As a young man, Valdemar spent time in the
during threshing season. Old photos show
him there with his first cousins Aage Petersen and Vernon Petersen. A few years ago, he reconnected with the
family where he had stayed and worked in . Lidgerwood,
He told of one winter when he and his Dad, Ansgar, cut fence posts out of a Tamarac swamp near their home on Country Trunk N. Wally said this was the most fun he ever had in the winter, working with his Dad everyday. He worked with his Dad and Niels Mortensen on many projects around the community, as he fine tuned his trade of cabinet making and learned a few other trades.
Wally also lived in
for a few years and worked as a milk tester.
There were friends and relatives living in the Solvang area and he
really enjoyed this work. He had an
offer to return to California after the war to
take a job as county agent, but stayed in Wisconsin instead.
Valdemar served proudly with the US Navy Seabees, 62nd Battalion, who were attached to the 5th Division of the US Marines during the battle at
Iwo Jima. In preparation for arriving in Iwo Jima, he
spent time on Maui and to break in big equipment
and also to learn their operation. He
was honorably discharged in 1945 on December 17 as a Carpenter’s Mate Third
Class. He endured many years of delayed
stress syndrome and after finding treatment in his later years, was a strong
advocate of mental health for returning soldiers. Oahu,
Also in 1945, he married Pauline Bjornton Carlson of
Minneapolis. Four children were born to this
marriage: Ralph, Glenn, Wanda &
Laila. The Johansen family lived on
County Trunk N just West of Luck, Wisconsin,
across the road from Valdemar’s parents, Ansgar and Frederikke.
As a young married man, Wally had a business in Milltown called Indianhead Woodproducts. Their main products were church pews and other church furniture. Unfortunately that business ended with a fire in December of 1960.
He moonlighted as a bartender at the Mill Inn on main street Milltown for a few years and made many friends. He joined a hunting group, The Highland View Lodge, with other Milltown friends Ray Shern, Carol Cogswell, Al Sorenson, ‘Shorty’ Beaulieu, John Dann, Swede Johnson, Bob Blumgren, Erling Nielsen, & Art Shern. All of his life he enjoyed deer hunting in
Wisconsin, and even made
a few elk hunting trips out West. The
most fun for Wally were the hours spent with his sons and grandsons at ‘the
shack’; he loved to play poker or cribbage, to enjoy a cocktail and to tell a
tale or two. Laughing was his trademark;
he was quick to smile and to make others laugh.
In later years it was more the cards, the storytelling and spending time
with his boys that made hunting so much fun for him.
After Indianhead Woodproducts was gone, he worked for many years installing for Ossit Furniture out of
. This work took him all around the country. He spoke often about working in Janesville, WI New York City, but he also could name a church in many Wisconsin towns where he had installed pews or chancel
In 1968, Wally & Pauline moved to
. Wally took a job working for former Luck
businessman, Clyde Brown, running Western Seating, a church furniture factory
located in Golden, CO. Lakewood, CO
While living in
Wally joined American Legion Post #17 in . He was very involved in the post, including
the design and building of a new facility and was elected Commander. He was a lifetime member of the American
Legion and the VFW at the time of his death.
He took great pride in the fact that his front license plate on his car
was the VFW Lifetime Member plate. Edgewater,
In 1970, he and Pauline divorced and he moved to
. One of his employees at the time was from Wheat Ridge, CO Belmond, IA and
eventually, there was a job offer from Four
Seasons Cabinetry of So, in 1975 he moved to Belmond, IA.
and began making new friends. He golfed
at the Klemme Golf Course and eventually joined the Board of Directors there. He spent time with friends at the VFW, where
he met the bartender, Evalee O’Toole, which started the beginning of a
relationship that was meant to be. Goodell, IA
Eventually, Valdemar opened Johansen Cabinetry in
and began doing custom cabin
work. His product included the design,
handcraftsmanship and installation of fine wood products. Business was good, & his work was in
demand until he decided to retire. His
shop space was rented from Jim Swenson, who soon grew to be like another son to
Valdemar, and when Jim later married Janette, another daughter was added to
Valdemar’s family. Belmond,
Valdemar & Evalee were married in 1988 and enjoyed 26 fun filled years together. They loved ballroom dancing and spent many evenings on the dance floor, in fact if there was a flat surface, they would likely dance on it. They bought a travel trailer after they retired and began to spend winters down South. One of Valdemar’s goals was to wear shorts every day of the year. Several years were spent in
Arkansas at the Charlton National Forest
Campground where they served as host & hostess. Wally was the handyman and the two of them
groomed the campsites to perfection.
Several more winters were spent in
camping in a fishing village and enjoying the mild weather. Then they found a spot in Hemphill, Texas ,
Harbor Light. This was a fun village of
snow birds with events catering to that group.
They made life long friends during these winter stays. Rockport, Texas
Once they were done pulling a trailer to
they continued to drive down and stay in an Inn near
that catered to folks from Up North who wintered in the warm climate. Close friends were made over penny poker games
and good Mexican food. Rockport, TX
Cribbage was his game. He loved to play and many times he was the winner and then could have fun teasing his losing opponent, which usually led to another game or two. He played weekly with a group at his apartment building in Belmond, and often came home a winner.
Many summers were spent in
in a cabin owned by son Ralph. Wally
& Ev loved feeding & watching the birds, seeing the wildlife, keeping
the cabin grounds maintained, having coffee on the front porch and a night cap
on the back porch. They loved their time
in the woods and took care of this cabin as if it was their own. Sterling Township
In the early 1950s, the 62nd Battalion of the Navy Seabees began having reunion gatherings. Valdemar attended as many of these as he could. His Seabee mates meant a lot to him and he was proud of his & their service during WWII and on
Jima. Somewhere in the
1990’s, Wally & Ev became the custodians of that group and their reunion
planning. It was a labor of love and
something that they were devoted to. The
last gathering of this group marked their 61st reunion. Wally was known as “Joe” to this group and he
was the glue that kept folks in contact through the years. He was patriotic to the bone; he respected
the flag and he loved his country.
In 2009, Wally was part of an Honor Flight to
. This was a thrill for him and an amazing
opportunity provided by volunteers. In
one day, they flew from Washington, DC Iowa
to DC, visited the WWII Memorial and most, if not all, the other major
memorials, and then flew home that night.
He smiled the entire time.
Wally and Ev looked forward to Lawrence Welk every Saturday night and at the end of each program,
"Keep a song in your heart". This has been inscribed on the Johansen
headstone bench at the Lawrence . West
Valdemar is survived by his sister Johanne (Thorvald) Hansen of Des Moines, IA, sons Ralph (Lois) of Luck, WI & Glenn (Kathy) of Spring Valley, WI and daughters Wanda of Rice Lake, WI & Laila of Aurora, CO & step children: Rick (Pat) O’Toole of Cedar Rapids, IA; Teri (Al) Jenniges of Garner, IA; Larry (Diane) O’Toole of Forest City, IA; Jeff (Pat) O’Toole of Fertile, IA
Also left to carry on his legacy are grandsons Ryan (Camilla), Kyle (Heather), Kris (Lora), Andrew (Michelle), Dana (
Erin) and granddaughters Angie (Aaron) Chivers, Krista
(Mark) Loyas and Kaija (Mike) Vanasse and more than 25 great grandchildren, 2
step-great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren. Additionally the O’Toole family grandchildren
and great grandchildren, along with Valdemar’s nephews and nieces mourn his
He was preceded in death by his Father & Mother, Ansgar & Frederikke Johansen, brothers Halvdan & Christian, sister Ane Marie James and great grandson Drew Chivers.
Just 56 days before his death, he lost his beloved wife of 26 years, Evalee O'Toole Johansen. This was a shocking blow to Wally and he missed her so very much. But, he said of this loss “I have accepted that this has happened, I realize I cannot do anything to change it, and now I just have to get the right attitude about it.” These words have brought comfort to his children as they deal with the shock of losing their Dad.
Wally & Ev never missed watching Dancing with the Stars together, no doubt missing the dancing that they had done together for so many years, so now, together again, we believe that they are Dancing In the Stars.
170th St, Luck, WI 54853 or
Luck Alumni Scholarship Fund Association,
P.O. Box 251 Luck, WI 54853