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Gerald R. Johanning went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Sunday, March 15, 2015. He was born in Racine, WI to Wallace and Louise (Blaesing) Johanning on February 6, 1935 and became a baptized child of God on February 24, 1935.
Jerry graduated from Racine Lutheran High School in 1953. He went on to attend Valparaiso University, graduating in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education. He began his first teaching position in Wheatfield, IN and then taught at Morgan Township School, IN – both near Valparaiso. From 1964 to 1979 he was the High School Band Director in Belvidere, IL. He earned a Master’s Degree in 1972 from Northern Illinois University. During his years as band director, the Belvidere High School Band received many Superior (1) ratings. The band was rated as one of the finest bands in IL during the Bicentennial year of 1976. From Belvidere, IL he moved on to Minocqua-Woodruff (WI) to head the music department at Lakeland Union High School. In 1982 he accepted a call to head up the music department at Northland Lutheran High School, located in Merrill, WI. He retired in 2000 as grade school band director for Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee.
Jerry was very active throughout his years, playing trumpet for many musical organizations including the Gary (IN) Symphony, the Rockford (IL) Symphony, Boone County Heritage Band, Merrill City Band, the West Allis Community Band, the Oconomowoc American Legion Band, the Greenfield Concert Band, and the First Brigade Civil War Band. In addition to the community organizations, he regularly added his talents to the festival worship services of his home congregations and sang bass in the church choir. He was also an avid model railroader and participated in many clubs and events in the North Central IL, South Central WI, and North Central WI areas.
Jerry met his wife, Sue (Muenchow) while a student at Valparaiso University. They were married in June of 1960 and were blessed to have nearly 55 years together as husband and wife. He is survived by his wife and three daughters – Laura (Tim) Nye of Elkhart, IN; Linda, and LeAnn Johanning; both of Milwaukee. He was blessed with two granddaughters – Gabrielle and Sara Nye. He is also survived by one brother, Charles (Rita) Johanning of Kronenwetter, WI, 5 nephews, and multiple cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents and one older brother, Donald Johanning of Ashland, WI.
Visitation will take place at ST. JOHN’S EV. LUTHERAN CHURCH, 7809 Harwood Ave, on Thursday, March 19th from 3:30-6PM, followed by funeral service at 6PM. Interment Pine Grove Cemetery, Wausau.
Memorials can be made to St. John’s Lutheran Church (Wauwatosa), Wisconsin Lutheran High School, or Racine Lutheran High School.
Special thanks to Dr. Ben George and his staff at Froedtert Clinical Cancer Center for their sincere care and compassion.

Past Comments

Rochelle S Windorski

I will always remember seeing Gerry in the Merrill parades playing with the City Band, he was always in front. He is one awesome guy and I can’t wait to hear his trumpet playing in Heaven! Rochelle Windorski

Dave Ferris

Hello Sue and Family,

I am very glad that I had the opportunity to share a few hundred hours with Gerry rehearsing and performing band music, sharing useful information, and sharing some good humor.

Dave Ferris OAL Band — Tuba and Percussion

Robert Wood

Jerry and I grew up together on Walton Avenue in Racine.There are so many memories to share.

He used to practice “On Wisconsin” on his trumpet in his upstairs bedroom with the window open so the whole neighborhood could hear it.

Once we had a contest to see whose mud-ball could come closest to his neighbor’s garage window. I guess I won since I broke the window.

Once we went to a celebration at nearby Douglas Park dressed as girls with wigs and our pant legs rolled up. A couple of boys were hanging around with us for some time until we told them we so were boys. They didn’t believe us until we took off our wigs.

I went away to the seminary for High School and stayed for seven years, although in High School I had summers off. One summer Jerry and I went camping on the campus of my school which was on a hill overlooking Lake Beulah some 40 miles away. Jerry annually broke the law by ordering a good sized box of fireworks for July 4th. He took them along on our trip and fired them on a hill overlooking the lake. No one came after us.

One summer my dad took us fishing. Jerry had a cigar box for his tackle. My dad had a trotline out the back of our boat. When he pulled up a good sized dogfish and plunked it it in Jerry’s lap, Jerry fell back and crushed his tackle box.

When I went on to the major seminary, Jerry went on to Valparaiso U. He moved to various places and so did I, leaving the seminary after seven years, studying at Marquette U, and marrying my grade school sweetheart who (luckily) was still unmarried when I got out of the seminary.

We lost touch with each other until he taught near Valparaiso U, his alma mater, and I taught at St. Joseph’s College 30 miles away in tiny Renssalaer. Somehow we found out how near we were and began mutual visits with our families.

Our families both moved away and lost touch with each other again until I found out that he lived in Milwaukee some 45 minutes from my mother’s home in Racine. From then on we got together–Jerrry and Sue, Marjorie and I–each year during the summer when we went to visit my mother and my wife’s Racine family. We would alternate eating together in Milwaukee and Racine. Sue would always provide a desert, baking things like cookies or lemon squares. They would visit my mother when they came to Racine to decorate the graves of relatives.

The last time I saw Jerry was at my mother’s funeral in January (she was 100 years and 10 months old). He and Sue had been to my mother’s 100th birthday celebration ten months previous. I knew Jerry was undergoing chemo-therapy but he didn’t look the worse for wear on either occasion, outside of a bit of weight loss. The few times I called him on the phone he was very upbeat and matter-of-fact about his situation. He knew how to take life and how to face death.

He was my very good friend. Marge and I miss him already.

Karl Smith

This train has reached its final destination.

As a child who loved trains, toy, model or real, I always enjoyed chatting with Uncle Jerry about them. I had to show him my latest model train layout, or gaze in wonder (and not a little envy) at his. And his knowledge about trains was astounding!

I’m so glad that as an adult I had the opportunity in the last couple of years to introduce him to my family and let my son see Uncle Jerry’s train layout. And to meet up with him at Trainfest.

Uncle Jerry falls into the class of ‘family’ that is not a blood relation, but in some ways closer than blood.

I know there were lots of other things we shared, between family vacations to music (I played brass too). But the trains were the one thing that it seemed only he and I shared with a passion.

After long and weary travels, he can unhitch his consist and go rest in the Great Roundhouse.

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