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Johannes Øksnevad (aka--Dad, Far, Grandpa,FarFar, MorFar, & OldaFar) was born to Hans and Olette-Gustava (Tjøtta) Øksnevad on February 12, 1917 in Reskell, Norway. He was the eighth child of ten, the youngest boy. He grew up during a difficult time for the family because of a major financial loss. Although his father was able to buy a 6 acre farm, it wasn't enough to sustain the family. Johannes' oldest brothers left for America, so the two younger boys were left to work the farm, only to discover that just under the surface was nothing but rocks. They were one of the poorest families in the region, which left an indelible mark on Dad's life. He never completed the 8th grade, but became a hired hand to area farmers. This tough life instilled in him a work ethic that he would carry with him throughout his life.
His spiritual legacy began with his parents, as he remembered them reading the Bible by the light of kerosene lamps. Johannes accepted Christ into his heart in early childhood; at Revival Meetings when he was 15, he made a public profession to dedicate his life to Jesus. In his youth he joined the Salvation Army, taught Sunday school, and was in charge of the youth league. His faith directed decisions he made throughout his life.
Dad lived through the German occupation of Norway during World War II. He had a secret radio to keep informed of the war by listening to the BBC, which could have cost him his life.
He became a cabinet maker, then left to attend Diakonhjemmet (Deacon Home School) in Oslo in 1943, where he received a degree in Nursing and Administration. He met Gunlaug Njølstad (our Mom), a nurse in the hospital in Oslo, and they married in 1948. He was a nurse on a seven-month whaling expedition to Antarctica, where he had many adventures. He was glad to return to Norway and his bride! In 1951, Mom and Dad and daughter Grete traveled to the United States where he was an assistant Pastor at the Norwegian Seamen's Church in Philadelphia. After two years, they moved to Rockford, where two of his brothers lived. He was a nurse at Rockford Memorial Hospital, and later bought a home to start his first Nursing Home at 611 N. Court St., "Deacon Home", named after the school in Norway. He opened his second nursing home, Medina Nursing Center in Durand, in 1965. His third nursing home, Alpine Fireside Health Center, opened in 1972, where he lived for the past 8 years. We are very thankful for the wonderful care he received from the staff.
Johannes and Gunlaug had five more children. All five of us have followed in our parents' footsteps--Holgeir and Gordon became Directors of the two nursing homes, Erik and Ellen are in the medical profession, and Roy is a missionary pastor.
Back in 1968, Dad purchased a farm in the Bad Axe valley near Viroqua, WI, which reminded him of Norway, affectionately called, "Farmen", or "The Farm". Our family has had many memorable times and adventures there over the years. In their retirement, Mom and Dad spent a lot of time at the beloved vacation farm, and traveling internationally, back to Norway and to visit mission fields. Dad's life's passion was missions work. Hundreds of missionaries ate at their table over the years. One of his crowning achievements was on the occasion of his 80th birthday when he brought together several denominations and mission organizations in Norway to raise money for missionary work.
Dad was known for his humor, especially having fun and goofing off with his grandchildren, and for resembling the actor/comedian Danny Kaye. He is preceded in death by his brothers and sisters, his daughter Grete and wife, Gunlaug. He is survived by his four sons, Holgeir (Karen), Roy (Darla), Gordon (Eileen), and Erik (Lou-Ann), and his daughter Ellen Storm, and 15 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. He has left a wonderful example and legacy for all of us to follow. Special thanks to the staff at Alpine Fireside for their care.
Funeral service will be at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, February 10, 2017, in First Evangelical Free Church, 2223 N. Mulford Rd. Rockford with Rev. Roy Oksnevad officiating. Burial in Bad Axe Lutheran Cemetery, Purdy, Wisconsin. Visitation will be from 9:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. prior to the service in the church. Memorials to Faith Learning International, 209 E. Liberty, Wheaton, IL 60187 (Please write "comma" in the memo of the check) or donate at

Condolences & Shared Memories (25)

  1. Joan Gillespie Gebbia

    Erica, I am so sorry for your loss.

  2. Pam Johnson

    Our heart-felt condolences on the passing of Dad and Grandpa. What a remarkable man and such a loving legacy he leaves behind to continue his his life's passion. Love to all from the Hansen Family in Durand.

  3. Susan (Tracy) Warren

    Dear Holgier and family So sorry for your loss. He sounded like a very strong and determined man

  4. Elizabeth Montejo

    So deeply sorry or your loss. What a great legacy he has left for all of you. It was a pleasure to read. May God give you peace.

  5. Steve and Jill Horsman

    Our prayers for the family as you grieve this loss, and rejoice and celebrate his life and his impact for the Lord over many years.

  6. Joe Whitchurch

    This was a godly man with huge influence in our family's life in the 1970s and beyond. Glad to have known him. He is more alive than we are through the One who told a repentant thief, 'this day you will be with me in paradise.' Prayers and much love for the family of this patriarch.

  7. Hesham Shehab

    What a life! He had had a lot of good fruits. No wonder you have picked up your zeal for missions from him.

  8. Vicki Sharp

    I am so sorry for your loss. He was such a sweet, intelligent, and funny man.

  9. Audra Johnson

    I am sorry for your loss. Mr Oksnevad was a wonderful man. His legacy will live on forever not only thru the two wonderful facilities he founded but also thru the changes he helped facilitate in long term care. He wisdom and his vision to change the care our elderly receive helped change the fabric of long term care. I am forever grateful to have the opportunity to be part of what he created. He was an amazing man. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. Jan Marcello-Huber

    I send my sympathy during this sad time.God has given you many memories to carry on in his honor.May the whole family find peace in his life which was lived full. Prayers and love for you all.God Bless

  11. Anna and Tor Oksnevad

    We are so sorry to hear about Johannes passing. We were told of the card shower and had sent a few, but were planning to send one from Norway while we were there last week as a special treat, but unfortunately learned of his passing while we were there. Our hearts and prayers are with the close family during this difficult time. Tor has very fond memories of spending time on the farm outside La Crosse and has mentioned many times how funny he always was.

  12. Vicki Larsen

    My sincere condolences! I loved Uncle Johannes' sense of humor and zest for life. He surely loved Gunlaug and now he is with her at last. Love to all. Vicki

  13. Al & Carole Meehan

    What a wonderful life shaped by the grace and guidance of God. Our short acquaintance with him will always be remembered with his wit and humor and for his generous help in our own ministry. His son Gordon, our colleague in ministry, reflects the character instilled in him by his father and mother who modeled Christ in their lives.

  14. Brenda and Ken Mullé

    We are so sorry for your loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers. "Dad" set an example for all of us !

  15. Denise

    He had such a good heart loved to joke around with people loved comimg to work to see him he reminding me of my grandpa Im going to miss him at work wont be the same without him

  16. Mike Urton

    It is very encouraging to read about your father's life of faithfulness to Christ and His Kingdom. I know that he is rejoicing in the fact that his faith is now sight! We continue to pray for your family as you mourn his death and celebrate his life.

  17. Arizona

    I enjoyed being able to get to know him he was a funny man. Sorry for ur loss

  18. Kim Thomas

    What an interesting and amazing life story in your Dad's obituary! My thoughts and prayers for you all as you celebrate in his honor in coming days. And my thanks as well for the legacy he left in Durand where my parents have both been so fortunate to live at Medina apartments and nursing home. God Bless!

  19. Chris Gergeni

    What a wonderful life! Condolences and prayers for your family in this time of loss! God Bless!

  20. Tammy Schmerse Ganshirt

    My deepest regards and prayers go with your family at this time of loss! Your Dad was quite a man and I worked for him all through high school and summers home from college. I would visit my Grandma Pauline Schmerse working in the kitchen there and I loved her stories of the residents! We appreciated everything your Dad did to start Medina in Durand, not only for the jobs, but for the loving care you have given so many in my family and me too! You should be comforted that your Dad is in heaven since he believed in God. What a great legacy he has made for you! God bless you all.

  21. Pam Finley

    Holgeir, Karen and family, My deepest sympathies to you all during this difficult time. Your family will be in my prayers.

  22. Steve and Dors Gebbia

    May ALL go upward in remembrance and inspiration. His legacy of service a joy to be shared

  23. Scott Wilson

    What a great tribute to a life lived. My condolences to you, Holgeir, and your family. Peace.

  24. Teresa Nolan

    With Thoughts To Comfort You There are no words that can fill the emptiness in your heart.... but perhaps it will help to know others care

  25. Larry Lang

    Gordon, I wish I had met/known your father. What a great spiritual heritage you have! What wonderful memories to cherish. We are praying for you and your family. Larry & Sylvia

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