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Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson talks about growing up in Wisconsin

By Staff | Jul 1, 2010

County Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson was interviewed by Chelsea Gerbig-Bedoya.

(On Intergenerational Day on March 12 at Lahaina Intermediate School, Lahaina Complex After School Tutors from Lahainaluna High School interviewed West Maui kupuna to write their biographies. This is the seventh profile in the series.)

Jo Anne Johnson lived in a place called Fond du Lac in Wisconsin. She lived in a nice green house that her mother and father built.  

She shared a room with her brother, but not for long. It was a small, two-story house with a small basement, but the basement was often damp because of drainage problems. The house was warm and cozy with a huge backyard with trees for climbing.  

The room she remembered the most when she was a child was a little space that was a converted sewing room. It had ceilings that were low in some parts, so she had to watch out or she would bang her head on the ceiling when she got up. The room had one small window for her to look out (especially at night for flying saucers). Her family moved four times, but it was always in the same town: Bank Street, Main Street, Marquette Street and then out to the rural country.

Her favorite place to visit when she was a child was Wisconsin Dells. It was an amusement recreational facility located near a river. At Wisconsin Dells, they had something called “The Duck,” which was similar to the “Maui Duck” we used to have on Maui. The Duck was an amphibious craft. It went from the land right into the water. The Duck would go into the river near Wisconsin Dells, you could see beautiful scenery and go onto land to feed the deer.

To have fun as a child, she went to local parks and swimming pools. She loved to swim. When she wanted to get away from home, she hopped on her bicycle and went to a little creek located under a bridge.

School for Jo Anne after moving to the country was a two-room schoolhouse. The school was from Kindergarten to seventh grade. There were 25 students and only one teacher. Jo Anne went to school in town before, so she was more knowledgeable than most of the other students, so her teacher gave her the opportunity to teach some of the older students. While teaching, she benefitted by being able to also learn new things herself. The school was called TAY-CAL-MAR. The students who attended that school were from three areas, Taycheedah, Calumet and Markesan, and that’s what TAY-CAL-MAR stood for.

Jo Anne went to a little church called Plymouth Congregational in Fond du Lac to worship God. To shop for food and clothes, the family mainly went to stores named Piggly Wiggly and Red Owl. To buy clothes, she went to the Fond du Lac Department Store and Ahern’s.

The first time that she ever moved away from her hometown was when she went to Denver, Colorado. She worked for Blue Cross-Blue Shield. She said it was a great place to live, and she did a lot of skiing because there was so much snow.

The house she lived in when she was first married was a condominium at Cowpet Bay, Saint Thomas, in the Virgin Islands. It was located on the ocean and had a beautiful view of the yacht club and the other islands.   

While living in the Virgin Islands, she carried a .380 caliber handgun. She said, “A few people made it a very dangerous place to live.” However, most of the people were very nice and similar to the ones that live here in Hawaii. Jo Anne loves living here on Maui.

Since Jo Anne and her late husband, Jim, moved to Maui, both made many significant contributions. They were a resourceful team that worked together on many of Maui’s problems.  

Her service as a West Maui County Councilwoman has been exemplary, and she diligently worked for the best interests of West Maui and the entire county.  

Her term ends this year, and she will be missed. We thank her for her dedicated service.