Cole “CJ” “Coach J” Burton Johansen, 67, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, formerly of Woodstock, died Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, at home, surrounded by his wife and loved ones after losing his fourth battle with cancer .
He was born May 20, 1946, to Charles and Evalyn Peterson Johansen in Woodstock.
On July 2, 2006, he married Trudy in a garden wedding in the backyard of their home in Iowa.
He graduated from Woodstock High School in 1964, where he played football and basketball and participated in track. In basketball his senior year, he and his best friend Don Anderson were the number one and two leading scorers, respectively, in their conference. He was selected to First Team All-Conference and the Chicago Tribune all-area team. He was in the Hall of Fame at Woodstock as the top scorer prior to the three-point shot being recognized. He received a full scholarship to play basketball at Iowa State University, where he played in the old Armory with Coach Glenn Anderson. He received the Frosh Free Throw Champ award for 1964-65, and he lettered his junior and senior years. One of his favorite memories of basketball was playing UCLA in California.
He graduated in the fall of 1968 with a degree in physical education and entered the Army in January 1969 at Fort Polk, Ga. It was during that time when he bravely fought his first cancer, cancer of the nasal and pharynx. He was treated at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, and medically discharged from the Army. He returned to ISU and completed his master’s in counseling in May 1972.
He taught at Lake Park and Parkersburg, Iowa; worked with his former father-in-law, Dan Schwitters, in the John Deere business; and in 1987 he returned to education, counseling at Jefferson High School. The students found a guy with an open mind and a big heart. He transitioned from counseling to the classroom and taught U.S. history and economics for 20 years until his retirement in 2007 after his second and third bouts with cancer.
He was a basketball and golf coach for 20 years at Jefferson. He earned the respect of every basketball coach he served alongside, and he was a great mentor for all the young coaches he worked with. He was inducted into the Jefferson Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004.
He and his wife shared their love of biking on trails in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, and the last two winters in Panama City Beach, Fla. Last year they completed their goal of biking 1,000 miles. He also enjoyed watching the Chicago Bears, ISU basketball and the Chicago Cubs. He enjoyed watching his grandchildren in their activities and was very proud of them.
Survivors include his wife; two sons, Jay and Derek (Valerie); a step-son, Colin Harms (Rachael Pritchard); four grandchildren, Zachery, Cora, Sophie and Audrianna; a brother, Charles (Mary) Johansen; a sister, Charla Johansen (Clifford) Pierce; two nephews, Barry (Jamie) Pierce and Michael (Melonie) Blazier; three nieces, Shawn (Curtis) Anderson, Charla Lynn Pierce and Alyssa Whiting, and their children; his sisters- and brothers-in-laws, Kristi (Bob) Neerman, Jodi (Michael) Moore, Jon (Colleen) Lee, Mary (Jay) Meacham, and their children; his best friend from high school, Don (Ellie) Anderson; his beloved yellow lab grand-dog, Bella; and his Jefferson faculty family.
He was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents and his beloved dogs, Brandy and Maggie.
Visitation was held Feb. 14 at Murdoch Funeral Home and Cremation Center, Marion, Iowa, and a Celebration of Life service was held Feb. 15 at First Lutheran Church, Marion, with the Rev. Steve Knudson officiating. Burial will be in Pioneer Cemetery, Woodstock, at a later date.
Memorials can be directed to The Cole Johansen Foundation. Donors can specify in the memo line Jefferson Boys Basketball Scholarship or Cedar Bike Trail Memorial for a bench/tree to be placed along the trail.