Morris E. Janssen

Rev. Morris E. Janssen, age 86, passed away at the Ely Assisted Living facility on May 10, 2022. Visitation and funeral service will be held this summer.

Morris E. Janssen was born on June 21, 1935, in Lakota, IA to Roni and Mary (Johnson) Janssen. He grew up on the family farm in Lakota and attended country school. He graduated from Buffalo Center HS in 1953. He attended Bible College, graduating in 1954. In 1954, he met the love of his life, Naomi Nelson, and the two were united in marriage on October 22, 1954. The couple embarked on what would turn out to be a journey to their lifelong home, Ely, MN in 1954. Morris had been offered his first pastoral position at the Ely Gospel Tabernacle. When they arrived in Ely, there were only 10 people in the congregation, and he conducted 4 funerals his first year in the ministry. Morris never lost hope, and God rewarded his faith by blessing the church with hundreds of worshippers throughout his entire life ministry. Many were local and during the summer months, lifelong friendships would be made with the many summer residents, cabin owners, and tourists that would visit the church and end up returning summer after summer.

Morris was the people’s pastor. He was never happier than when he had a church full of people to minister to, a house full of company to fellowship with, a screen tent full of people at his beloved White Iron Lake cabin, a restaurant full of people to talk to, a nursing home full of people to minister to, or a park full of tourists to talk to during Blueberry Arts or Harvest Moon. He had such a passion for meeting people that he sought out ways to meet people throughout Ely. One of his ideas for meeting more people became a 50-year journey, as he became a school bus driver for the Ely School District. Throughout his entire 50 years of driving bus, he got to know thousands of families. His greatest love of bus driving was having the privilege of driving his three local grandkids’ teams to their away games, thus allowing him to cheer them on season after season. His bus kids lovingly gave him the nickname “Rev,” a name that stuck with him for the rest of his life.

Morris lived a life of faith. He brought countless strangers home for supper, helped anyone in need, and he and Naomi would welcome people into their home to celebrate holidays so they didn’t have to be alone. His generosity allowed him to minister to people. He performed numerous weddings and funerals for people who didn’t have a church home. He felt it was his calling to minister to everyone, not just his congregation.

Morris is survived by his children, Dawn (Chuck) Lukas of Merritt Island, FL; and David (Jenny) Janssen of New Ulm, MN. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Jillian (Darren) Lilja of Ely; Amrita (Casey) Peterson, of Ely; Carter Manning of Ely; Bethany Janssen and Nathaniel Janssen of New Ulm, MN; great-grandchildren Beau Peterson of Ely, Sophia and Kameron Manning of Ely; step-great-grandchildren Mackenzie & Mitchell Peterson of Ely; sister-in-law Betty Nelson of Rice, MN, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Paul and LeeAnn Nelson of Rochester, NY, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 67 years, Naomi in 2020, his brothers Leroy and Lloyd, sister-in-law Viola Janssen, his nephew Rodney Janssen, and his parents.

Family arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.