Arlo Theodore Janssen
October 1, 1928 - May 3, 2020
Arlo Janssen was called home to the Lord on May 3. He had a varied career as a Lutheran Pastor, a college Professor, and, in his later years, as a well-known author of college texts and personal history. He was a committed Christian and lived his faith throughout his many associations with students and friends near and far and his interactions with his immediate and large extended family. Arlo was a person who valued greatly his personal, professional and family relationships and was an expert in bringing people together and making connections. He never missed an opportunity to witness for the Lord and throughout his working life and on into his retirement he visited and ministered to prisoners, the aged, sick, and infirm to share his humor, comfort and prayers.
Arlo was the seventh child in a family of ten. His childhood was spent in Odessa, Minnesota where his father was the Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church (1927-47) and where he enjoyed small town life with enough siblings for a baseball team. Sports, humor, music, and especially singing were valued in the family, and they were fun loving, very close, and supportive of each other to pursue higher education. Arlo attended school in Odessa through the tenth grade and graduated from Concordia High School in St. Paul in 1946, where he also went on for two years of Concordia College. In 1955, Arlo was proud to join his father, grandfather, and two brothers as he was ordained in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod upon graduation from Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Ill. Arlo continued his education and also completed a year of graduate study at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as well as the University of Arizona, where he earned a M.A. degree in English Language and Composition. Arlo wrote about his experiences growing up in the book Parsonage in the Pear Tree and traveled around talking about and signing the book for admirers who loved the folksy humor and interesting events.
Teaching was a special gift of Arlo’s. He taught elementary school in Wisconsin and his book Grasslake Junction (2012) detailed his experiences during this time. He also spent 33 years at Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona as Professor of Speech and Debate. His Pastor duties started at churches in Springfield, Pa. and at Westville and Otis, Indiana, and eventually included starting a student congregation in Tucson at the University of Arizona. He also served as Assistant Pastor for his brother Ihno in San Francisco, and he provided assistance as Pastor at congregations in Tucson and Cochise County, AZ. He also started and served as Pastor at a Christian Youth Camp near Bisbee, AZ, was a Pastor for prison ministry, and also served Peace in the Valley Lutheran Church in Benson, AZ. from 1998-2003. At the age of 84, Arlo left retirement and served as interim Pastor for three churches in the Odessa, MN area, including the one he grew up in, Trinity Lutheran. He thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and making new ones as he traveled to do three services each week for 18 months in 2011-12. Arlo was also a frequent contributor to the Ortonville Independent with his reoccurring column called "Just a Thought" about his experiences growing up in Odessa.
In 1972 Arlo met the love of his life and married Ofelia Trevino. Together they enjoyed 48 years of marriage. Ofelia was always by Arlo’s side, participating with him in his various ministries and for 17 years in retirement, especially when his vision started to fail, served as his driver and assistant as Arlo performed duties for Immanuel Lutheran in Sierra Vista, AZ. He and Ofelia called on many shut-ins and provided comfort in homes and care facilities up until Arlo’s death. As Arlo’s health failed, Ofelia was by his side, providing physical and mental support.
Arlo was preceded in death by his father, Pastor Ihno Janssen Sr., and mother Minnie Thormaehlen Janssen and he survived all of his nine Janssen siblings, including his four sisters Ruth, Adelheide, Anita and Marcia, and his five brothers Ihno Jr., Vernon, Immanuel, Daniel and Waldemar. He is survived by his wife Ofelia, his sons Andrew and Ted (Heather), his grandchildren Doug (Paivi), Sarah, David, Emily, Lucy, Adam, and great grandchildren Hanna, Elina, and Aimee. He also maintained regular contact and was well known for remembering the birthdays of many of his numerous Janssen nieces and nephews who were from all over the US.
Arlo never met a stranger. He shared his dry sense of humor and off-beat jokes with anyone who would listen. Whether he was in the pulpit or in the grocery store he passionately shared his love of God and genuinely cared for everyone he met. Those who knew him were familiar with his inability to say goodbye. Rather, his parting statement was, "God Be With You." His memorial service will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Sierra Vista when large gatherings are once again permitted and a Committal Service will also occur in Odessa at a later date. Those who wish to make a donation in his name can send it to Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, PO Box 38, Odessa, MN
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