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Violet "Jean" Johnsen

December 20, 1926 February 20, 2016
Violet "Jean" Johnsen
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Obituary for Violet "Jean" Johnsen
On February 20, 2016 Viola “Jean” Johnsen, 89, passed away with dignity and grace at her home in Brookings, Oregon, with her daughter, Karyn by her side.

Jean, as family and friends knew her, was born December 20, 1926 in Hammond, Indiana to Russian immigrants James and Helen (Vivor) Federoff. After graduating with academic honors from Hammond High School she moved to Chicago, Illinois where she sang professionally.

When WWII started, she worked in a tank factory in Illinois. Jean then moved to Highland, Indian where she was a hostess at Johnsen’s Blue Top Restaurant. There she met Edward A. Johnsen, the owners’ oldest son. They were married on June 30, 1946 in Crown Point, Indiana after he returned from service in the U. S. Navy and she helped run the family business. After her husband returned from the Korean War, the family moved to Schererville, Indiana where they lived for 45 years before moving to Brookings, Oregon in May of 2000.

Jean was a loving, devoted mother of six and the sunshine in their lives. She was also a talented musician who loved classical music, opera and the theater. She was a creative seamstress who sewed everything from baby clothes to prom gowns for her children and grandchildren. When the Cabbage Patch dolls were marketed, she learned how to sew the most lovely and detailed cloth dolls. She made them for her family, and then made many more that she donated to charity.

Throughout her life, Jean was always quick to lend a hand to those in need which was a reflection of her loving, generous spirit. She was a Girl Scout leader, a First Aid Instructor for the American Red Cross, a member of the Brookings American Red Cross DAT (Disaster Action Team) assisting with blood drives, a Soroptimist and was very active in Parent Teacher Organization while her children were growing, as well as being supportive of their many activities. She was an incredibly strong, resilient, independent woman who spoke her mind. Always a role model, always a lady. Jean had a lifelong hunger for knowledge and was an avid reader, traits that she instilled in her children. When her vision failed, she enjoyed listening to talking books recorded by the Oregon State Library. She enjoyed traveling around the country, visiting her children and accompanying her daughter, Karyn, to art shows and fairs. Jean was a nature lover who loved flowers, especially roses. She appreciated Oregon’s beaches and wildlife, and delighted in watching the deer and raccoons in her yard. She always loved animals and while her children were young, these included iguanas, turtles, raccoons, guinea pigs, rabbits, goats, cats, dogs, and even a monkey. She had a special love for her Dobermans and other companion animals, including her Siamese cats, MingLing and SingSing. For the last eight years her devoted shadow was her Doxie, JD. She passed this love for animals to her children.

Jean was a member of St. Michael’s Church in Schererville where she chaired the St. Michael’s Festivals and the Rosary Society. In Brookings, she chaired the Star of the Sea Rosary Society Annual Country Store.
Survivors include her daughter, Karyn Johnsen-Dagenais of Brookings, Nancy Johnsen of Crete, Illinois, Debra Johnsen Baer (Ken) of Aiken, South Carolina, Janet Sanchez (Hector) of Portage, Indiana, Jennifer Whitten (Greg) of Portage, Indiana; former son-in-law, Jim Dagenais of Thailand; sixteen grandchildren, twenty-two great grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

Jean was preceded in death by her husband, parents, son, Edward A. Johnsen, Jr., daughter-in-law, Donna Johnsen, twin brother, James Federoff, sisters, Ann Alpaugh and Margaret Smith, grandchildren, Damian and Daniel Baer, and a great granddaughter, Haley Baer.

The family appreciates the compassionate assistance given by the Hospice team, especially nurses Shirley, Shannon, Liz and Mark, CNA Rhonda, Chaplain Mike and MSW Jeff, In Home Care Givers, Anita and Carol, Dr. Julianne Leighton and staff, and Curry Good Samaritan. The family is very grateful for Father Luan’s support, many visits and prayers.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jean’s name to Coastal Home Health & Hospice, PO Box 493, Gold Beach, OR 97444; South Coast Humane Society, PO Box 7833, Brookings, OR 97415 or Star of the Sea Catholic Church, 820 Old County Rd., Brookings, OR 97415.

A Memorial Mass will be offered at 10:30 AM on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at Star of the Sea Catholic Church, 820 Old County Road in Brookings. A Celebration of Life will follow. Recitation of the Rosary will precede the Mass at 10:00 AM.
There will be a memorial service in Northwest, Indiana at a future date.

Redwood Memorial Chapel is assisting the family. Condolences may be expressed online at

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