VisitationBethel Lutheran Church
Herman, MN 56248
Joan Mae Johnson was born at home on May 13, 1929, near Herman, MN, to Harold and Minnie (Ziemer) Johnson. She grew up on her family's farm and graduated from Herman High School in May 1947. She received a degree in Public School Music from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, in 1951. Joan married her high-school sweetheart, Jerry Oachs, on December 27, 1952, in Herman. Immediately following their marriage, Joan and Jerry moved around the United States while Jerry completed his Air Force service before returning to the Herman area to farm in 1956. Joan and Jerry were married for nearly 62 years, and on the "Johnson family farm" they raised four children: Mark (Jayne) Oachs of Herman, MN; Brad (Lezlie) Oachs of Duluth, MN; Douglas (Kim) Oachs of Herman; and Karen (Tim) Hurlbut of Farwell, MN. Joan passed away on April 24, 2018.
Joan was a teacher, musician, gardener, baker, and family historian. Between college and marriage, Joan taught public school music in Glencoe, MN. Once she and Jerry returned to Herman, Joan was active at Bethel Lutheran Church as organist, director and accompanist for various choirs, Lutheran Church Women member, and Sunday School teacher. She also taught piano to students in the Herman area, including her grandchildren. Joan loved all types of gardening, with flower gardens scattered around the farm yard and a large garden with vegetables for fresh eating and canning. During long Minnesota winters, she scoured seed catalogs to plan the next summer's striking specter of color and texture that would bloom throughout the growing season. Joan was an enthusiastic organic gardener as well. She read gardening literature, fostered an active compost pile, and experimented with "environmentally friendly" methods to control weeds and pests long before it was part of popular culture.
Joan was a skilled bread, bar, and cookie baker. Her children d grandchildren looked forward to hot-from-the-oven bread on Saturdays and the smell of treats baking many days of the week. Joan also delighted in researching family history. She began keeping a personal journal at 8 years old and continued for 70 years until her stroke in 2008. Joan wrote a Johnson family history that captured the Halvor and Bertine Johnson family story, the original Norwegian homesteaders who settled the Johnson family farm in the 1870s. Joan was fond of watching her children and grandchildren participate in their school activities, and Joan and Jerry always provided solid presence and support no matter which child or what activity.
Joan suffered a serious stroke in July 2008 that limited her ability to stay on the farm with Jerry. After her stroke, she transitioned to care facilities, with her most recent time spent at the Knute Nelson Care Center in Alexandria, MN. Joan was always very grateful for the excellent care she received from the staff, and her family believes that contributed to her long and well-lived life. Joan's family, and those who knew her, will greatly miss her presence, sometime sharp wit, and incredible memory of obscure family details.
Joan was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, her parents-in-law Walter and Dorothy Oachs, brother-in-law Leo Christy, and sister-in-law Leora Oachs.
Joan is survived by her children, her sisters Harriett Christy of Northfield, MN; Jane (Bob) Theiss of Carson City, NV; and Rose Marie (Rolly) Balke of Hutchinson, MN. She is survived by nine grandchildren: Jennifer (Lane) Pederson, Matthew (Heather) Oachs, Rebecca Oachs, Emily Rose Oachs (fiancé David Huntsberger), Brian Oachs, Jared Oachs, Jessica (Joseph) Moeller, Scott (Leona) Hurlbut, and Joseph Hurlbut; and seven great-grandchildren.