Cover photo for Gwen M. Johanson's Obituary
Gwen M. Johanson Profile Photo
1955 Gwen 2020

Gwen M. Johanson

June 26, 1955 — October 27, 2020

Gwen Marie (Thompson) Johanson passed away Tuesday, October 27, 2020 after a five year battle against ovarian cancer.  She died peacefully surrounded by her loving husband and children.

Gwen was born Sunday, June 26, 1955 in Bertha, MN.  Her parents Verniel and Richard Thompson resided in Clarissa, MN until her family outgrew their home. Her parents coincidentally sold the home to the Johanson family. The Thompsons moved to a dairy farm south of Clarissa in 1962.

Gwen attended and was baptized and confirmed at Our Savior’s Lutheran in Clarissa.  She attended Sunday school and the Luther Crest Bible Camp near Alexandrea, which assisted in confirming her faith.

She attended Clarissa Public School, participating in band, choir and various small groups including madrigal, and girls’ quartet and sextet; school musicals, the junior class play, JV cheerleading, FHA, and captain of the drill team as a senior.  She also was a member of the 4H club, winning ribbons in sewing and the club’s booth in Todd County and went to state with other members for the booth as well.  She graduated with honors in 1973 and that fall attended Moorhead State College, graduating with an associate degree in Accounting in May 1975.  During the final semester Gwen assembled her bridal gown and headpiece, as well as 5 bridesmaid and flower girl gowns,

Gwen married her high school sweetheart Marty Johanson on June 28, 1975.  They lived briefly in Clarissa and moved to Moorhead that Fall so Marty could finish his final year of college.

In September 1975, Gwen began working at Moorhead State College and she continued working there until retiring in 2014.  She has enjoyed many continued friendships with co-workers since leaving MSUM.  She is so thankful for all the co-workers and student workers during those years as four daughters were born to Gwen and Marty.  Her work was always in the administrative division – Business Office, Student Activities Budget Office, Parking Office Supervisor, and Office Services Supervisor for the Administrative Affairs Office and then the Physical Plant.  Her work also included 4th of July Event Coordinator and Commencement Coordinator, and after seeing her daughters and many classes graduate, she decided to get her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2009.

Gwen went back to work part time at Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota in 2015 until 2019, as Administrative Support to the Behavioral Health Unit in the Moorhead office.  She enjoyed having new work relationships and friendships.

In her spare time, Gwen enjoyed making crafts and sewing items like dresses, doll clothes, memory quilts and blankets for family.  Over the years she has enjoyed following her children’s sports and activities and volunteering when she could, including costumes for the Moorhead Ice Show, and as a board member of the Red River Valley Figuring Skating Club.  In recent years, following her grandchildren in their sports and activities has been wonderful.

Gwen is survived by her husband Marty; son, Jason (Stacie) Kempel and children Brayden and Audrey (Ramsey, MN); daughter, Jerilyn (Morgan) Leiseth and their children Kaila Johanson, Hayden and Isaac, Moorhead, MN; daughter, Erin (Jason) Gregoire and their children Griffin and Gracie, Moorhead, MN; Sarah Johanson and her boys Easton, Mason and Kannon, Moorhead, MN; and daughter Emily (Rob) Kaehn and their boys Nolan and Justin, Zimmerman, MN.

She is also survived by her mother Verniel Thompson and siblings: Gary (Barb) Thompson and families, Alexandria, MN; Gail (Butch) Pavlacky, Vergas, MN, and families; Gregg (Pam) Thompson, Osakis, MN, and boys; Glenda (Doug) Schindler, St. Stephen, MN, and families; Grant Thompson, Alexandria, MN; Bill (Lisa) Thompson and family, Osakis, MN; along with her in-laws, Linda (Craig) Schultz Casselton, ND, and families; and Robert (Kim) Johanson, St. Michael, MN, and families.

Gwen is preceded in death by her father, Richard Thompson; infant siblings, Wendy and Wade; grandparents, Louise and Martin (Mike) Meiners; William E. Thompson, Vera Strochin, and in-laws, William and Jacquelyn (Roth) Johanson.

In lieu of flowers or gifts please donate to Lutheran Social Service of MN, Behavioral Health Unit, Moorhead MN.

A visitation will be held on Sunday, November 1, 2020 from 5:00-7:00 PM with a prayer service beginning at 7:00 in Wright Funeral Home, Moorhead, MN. A livestream of the prayer service will be available for those unable to attend.

A private family service will be held on Monday, November 2, 2020 at 10:30 AM at Trinity Lutheran Church, Moorhead, with a livestream viewing for the public at the Courtyard by Marriott in Moorhead. Lunch and fellowship with the family will follow at the Marriott.

Burial will be in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, Moorhead, MN.

Masks and social distancing will be required at all services and livestreams will be available on YouTube at  OR on Facebook at


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gwen M. Johanson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Upcoming Services


Wednesday, November 1, 2023

5:00 - 7:00pm (Central time)

Wright Funeral Home - Moorhead

605 2nd Ave S, Moorhead, MN 56560

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Thursday, November 2, 2023

Starts at 10:30am (Central time)

Courtyard by Marriott - Grand Ballroom


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Evergreen Memorial Cemetery


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