Jan Ellis Johnson was born to Mildred Adeline (Nyre) Johnson and Earl Alton Johnson on May 9, 1943, in Fort Dodge, Iowa. He and his older brother Jay Paul Johnson grew up in Lanesboro, Minnesota where their dad was superintendent. Throughout Jan's life he regaled his family, friends and sometimes strangers with stories of his nicknamed classmates and their adventures in the small town of Lanesboro.
After high school Jan briefly attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout and then transferred to and graduated from Mankato State University with a degree in elementary education. He would later go on to earn his master's degree. During the summers Jan worked on rivers, lakes and streams for the DNR.
Later in his college career, Jan was introduced to Linda who worked as a nurse at the University of Minnesota Hospital. Jan and Linda were set up by Jan's sister-in-law, Jane, who also worked as a nurse with Linda. Jan and Linda were married on December 23, 1966.
Jan began and ended his career in the Byron School District. During those more than 30 years, he was an elementary teacher in grades four, five and six, but spent most of his time as a fourth-grade teacher. He was best-known for his teaching style that captured the student's attention through story and taught them a lesson at the same time.
During summers, Jan worked with a fellow teacher whitewashing dairy barns in the area. He enjoyed the work and the connections he made with the farmers.
Over the course of his life, Jan enjoyed canoeing and camping with friends and family on the Chippewa River in Wisconsin. He had a rich social life and enjoyed hosting spontaneous gatherings, and an annual corn feed the evening of the Byron Bears homecoming football game.
Jan was passionate about the home he designed and built in the mid-80s. He transformed what was once a pasture into an elegant yard including a spring-fed pond and a rustic hot tub. He maneuvered granite boulders found on the land and arranged them to create a Japanese-style garden around the pond. He expressed much of his creativity through plants and loved studying ways to add new features to his yard.
Jan was preceded in death by his parents and his brother. He is survived by his wife Linda, children Andrea and her partner Mark, Olaf and daughter-in-law Channary, granddaughters Anisa and Analena, and nephews Chris and Peder. Jan will be remembered as a quintessential storyteller and as a man who never knew a stranger
A visitation will be held from 4:00-7:00 pm on Thursday, October 26, 2023 at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes (5421 Royal Pl NW, Rochester, MN 55901).
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes is honored to be serving the Johnson family; to share a special memory or condolence please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com.