Kenneth C. Johnsen, 69, of Ely, dies

Kenneth C. Johnsen, 69, of Ely, “All is Well”
Ken Johnsen of Ely, Minn., began his next journey on March 9, 2018 at home, surrounded by his family. Ken came to us on April 22, 1948 and by all accounts was a curious and active child, positive traits he never lost. Ken practiced living in the present, generosity, and optimism. His advice to us all is to: “Be happy and enjoy life just as it comes, one day at a time.”
Ken was in Ely for only two years, but in that time, he touched the lives of all whom he met. He loved schmoozing with everyone at the Front Porch, discussing books at Chapman Street Books and at the Ely Public Library, foraging for samples at Zup’s, and finding good deals at the Goodwill store. He loved taking his grandchildren to Miners Lake for exploration and fishing. A frequent picker and tour guide for out-of-towners at the dump, Ken could see the potential in all things and in all people.
He loved playing giant checkers in the lobby of the Grand Ely Lodge with his soulmate, Becky Komarek. Together, they drove all the backroads to find the best views of Shagawa Lake and pick out the lake homes they would buy with their imaginary lottery winnings. Ken and his brother, Bruce, recently parked at the end of the road on 169 and spent time together, just talking about life and philosophy and faith.
He grew up in Minneapolis and graduated from North High School in 1966. After that, Ken married Sandra Joosten, and they had two children, Sam and Janel. While growing up, Sam and Janel enjoyed many outings to the science museum, home maintenance apprenticeships, bike rides, and reading with their father. Ken also tirelessly performed many pas de deux performances with his daughter, Janel, on their living room stage. Ken had many skills. He was a proud union member, first as an employee of the Soo Line Railroad, and then as a journeyman in the Carpenters Union. He always told his son-in-law, Chris, an aspiring woodworker, that they would welcome him. Ken worked as a property manager at a large retirement complex, and he restored numerous homes. He loved creative projects, once converting an old wooden water tower into a two-story gazebo overlooking a lake. He was a perfectionist, unhesitatingly working with tile, plumbing, and electricity. When he finished a job, everything fit and everything worked. He even built custom booths for Do North Pizza in Two Harbors. His biggest work, however, came on his own recovery. He worked his program diligently, and he helped others work their own programs.
He lived in Minnesota, California, New Mexico, Hawaii, and he even lived in Kentucky with his sister and brother-in-law (Ann and George), where he made a real circle of friends while helping build an addition on the house and learning how to keep bees. He was a poet, artist, and enjoyed travel of all kinds, including trips to East Africa and China.
He was preceded in death by mother Betty, father Carl, sisters: Lynda (Gillespie) and Valerie (Johnsen). Survived by: Becky Komarek; children Sam Johnsen and Janel (Chris) Koenig; grandchildren: Jessica and Max; brother Bruce (Beverly) Johnsen; sisters: Jane (Ben) Braverman, Ann (George) Coleman, Natalie Morrison (August Nimtz), and Naomi (Chaunce) Stanton; numerous nephews and nieces; and countless friends. Our brother, father, friend, lover, uncle, and grandfather will be truly missed.