Friday, December 4, 2015

Ralph "Gus" Alan Johansen 1946-2015

Ralph Alan Johansen, “Gus” 69, of Luck, Wisconsin passed away on Monday, November 23, 2015, at the Veteran’s Administration Health Care System in Minneapolis, with his loving family at his side.

Ralph was born on May 29, 1946 in Frederic, Wisconsin: the son of Valdemar (Wally) and Pauline (Bjornton) Johansen.  Gus grew up in the West Denmark Community, and was baptized and confirmed in the West Denmark Lutheran Church. He attended the Luck Public School. Gus was always looking for business opportunities. As a teenager he worked a summer on his Uncle Chris's farm in Iowa, he logged a Tamarack swamp and sold the fence posts that he made from the wood for 50 cents each, he was a lifeguard at the Luck beach, and he pumped gas at the Shell station in Luck.

He graduated from the Luck High School on a Friday, and on Monday, he began work at Fidelity State Bank. Shortly after he attended and graduated from the Minnesota School of Business. In 1969, he was drafted into the United States Army. He was stationed at Fort Ord, in California for two years, before his honorable discharge in 1971. Gus worked between the Luck and Dresser branches of the Fidelity State Bank over the next 10 years. Next, he worked at Durex in the business office. He then started at Home Federal Savings and Loan, managing the Taylor’s Falls branch. During this time, he also earned his real-estate broker’s license and worked for Art Anderson Realty part-time.

On May 31, 1974, he married the love of his life, Lois Skow, and they built a home on the Chippewa Trail. The next few years were spent expanding their family to include four children: Ryan, Kyle, Kris, and Angela. In 1979 the couple purchased Northside Auto Clinic, a new and used car dealership. They moved their family to live in a home next to the dealership in Luck. Gus owned and operated that business until 2001. Next, he opened the Pawn Gallery, in Luck. This gave him an outlet for his lifetime passion of gun collecting. He and his faithful employee and trusted friend Karen Kelly ran that business until 2012, when he sold the Pawn Gallery and retired.

Over the years, Gus sat on many community boards and committees. He was an active member of the Luck Lutheran Church, serving on the church council and singing in the church choir, for many years. He sat on the Luck School Board for 16 years, he served two terms on the Polk County Board, he was a charter member of the Youth Sports Unlimited Program, and for a time, he was the constable of the Luck Township. For 25 years, he was a volunteer for the Luck Fire Department, and later became an auctioneer for community fundraisers. When children called the North Pole, Gus was the voice of Santa Clause that they told their wishes to via the Luck Telephone Company.

Gus was an avid hunter and outdoorsman. He enjoyed his many Colorado hunting trips with his brother Glenn, his brother-in-law Harold, his father Wally, and in later years, his sons and son-in-law. He loved the fishing trips that he took annually with many friends from Luck. He looked forward to “bear camp” and spending time with his bear hunting pals each year. He loved going to auctions, gun shows, and flea markets. He was a proud supporter of the Luck Cardinals, and enjoyed watching whatever sport, play, or musical event there was. Opening deer season was the highlight of his entire year, as he was surrounded by his sons, nephews, grandchildren, brother, and father.

Most of all, Gus enjoyed the time that he spent at the family cabin in Sterling Township, the area known as the Barrens, West of Cushing.  Gus and Lois had a cabin there for over 30 years.  He enjoyed hunting, snowmobiling, 4-wheeling, playing cards and all that is included in “shack” life.

Gus enjoyed starting his day with the “coffee clutch”, a local group of problem solvers, who convened at the Holiday Station each morning. Gus always had a story tell. He enjoyed talking to people wherever he went. He will be remembered by his stories, his larger than life personality, and his smile. He had a great sense of humor. He was the most proud of his family, and was always looking forward to the birth of each of his many grandchildren.
In the last ten years, Gus has had many complex health issues. He has struggled with cancer, and a blood disorder that caused rapid decline over the last year. He enjoyed special moments with his family despite his poor health. Ultimately, he lost a battle with renal failure on November 23rd.His family finds comfort in the fact that he had trusted Jesus as his Savior, and will now spend eternal life in heaven.

Gus is preceded in death by his parents, Wally and Pauline; step-mother Ev, and his infant grandson, Drew.

Ralph leaves to celebrate his memory: wife, Lois Johansen, Luck, Wisconsin, children and grandchildren: Ryan (Camilla) Zackary and Nickolas Tronrud; Elliana, and Milena Johansen, Luck, WI; Kyle (Heather) Jack, Gage, Stella, Ruby, Jens, and Jude Johansen, Luck, WI; Kris (Lora) and Anders Johansen, Alma, WI; Angela (Aaron)  Emily, Megan, Owen, Ivan, and August Chivers, Luck, WI. He is also survived by his brother, Glenn (Kathy) Johansen, Spring Valley, WI;  sisters, Bonnie (Bill) Bronstad, Plymouth, MN; Wanda Johansen, Rice Lake, WI; and Laila Johansen, Aurora, Colorado; brother and sister-in-law Larry and Lois Skow, Luck, WI; and brother-in-law Harold Skow. He has many nieces, nephews and other loving family and friends.

Memorial Services will be held on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 1:00 P.M. at Luck Lutheran Church. Pastor Ralph Thompson will officiate. Visitation will be held at the church from 11:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. Following the service Gus will be laid to rest at the Luck Village Cemetery with military honors. Please join the family for lunch and fellowship back at the church following cemetery services.

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