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Published: Wednesday, 2/5/2003

Youth leader oversaw transition to co-ed club

Edward R. Johansen, 78, who capped a 40-year career working with children as executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Toledo, died yesterday in his South Toledo home.

Mr. Johansen, who overcame colon cancer six years ago, died from complications of a tumor in his liver, which developed in November, his son, Edward Johansen, Jr., said.

Mr. Johansen was born in Chicago and raised as an orphan. He enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in the Pacific during World War II.

After his discharge, Mr. Johansen moved to Toledo, where his biological mother had been living, the younger Mr. Johansen said. While attending the University of Toledo, Mr. Johansen met Dorothy Hampton, an East Toledo native whom he married in 1949, his son said.

“He got his bachelor's in education in Toledo around 1952 and he really liked the city,” Mr. Johansen said. “Plus, he met my mom here and that kept him in Toledo.”

His career began as a crafts instructor and then later a camp director and program director at the former Superior Street building of the Boys Club of Toledo. Mr. Johansen stayed in Toledo until 1955 when his career took him to executive positions at Boys Clubs in three cites. He served as executive director in Valdosta, Ga., Springfield, Ill., and Kansas City, Mo., his son said.

While the head of the Boys Club in Kansas City, Mr. Johansen was responsible for building a $750,000 center. In Springfield, he established two new branches.

“He was looking to become an executive director, so that's why we moved,” the younger Mr. Johansen said. “But he always promised my mother if there was an executive position that came open in Toledo, that he would take it.”

In October, 1971, Mr. Johansen returned to Toledo and took control of its Boys Club. During his tenure, Mr. Johansen oversaw the transition from a boys-only program to one that was co-educational.

“I think he wanted to serve the youth and this was a way to do that,” the younger Mr. Johansen said. “He started working with children and then he found he could do a lot more as an executive.”

Mr. Johansen received the Boys Club of America Bronze Keystone Award and the Midwest Region's Boys Club Heart and Soul Award.

Mr. Johansen retired in 1989.

In retirement, Mr. Johansen enjoyed fishing and spending time with his grandchildren, his son said.

Surviving are his wife, Dorothy; sons, Edward, Don, and Glenn; daughters Kim Ingwersen, Joyce Fuller, Karen Willer, and Barbara Shellhammer; sister, Helen Oehlert; 18 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Walker Funeral Home after 2 p.m. Friday. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

The family requests tributes to the Boys and Girls Club of Toledo, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, or a charity of the donor's choice.



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