Johanna E. Gossen, 93, passed away peacefully with family by her side in Niceville, Florida on August 22, 2023. Johanna was a dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother who loved her family foremost.
She was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 23, 1929 to German immigrant parents, Henry and Greti Kolb. Their home was located above the family meat market on Southport Avenue. A simple yet comfortable lifestyle allowed the family to visit relatives in Germany often. She was only four years old when she sailed across the sea for the first time on the S.S. Bremen with her parents. At the young age of seven, Johanna was responsible for taking care of her baby brother, Hank, while their parents worked at the family-run business. Cleaning and preparing meals were her tasks every day after coming home from school. Some time for fun was found while participating in the Jungen choir in high school. In the summer of 1946, the family packed up their lives in Chicago, traveled in a trailer across the country, and relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. This experience planted the seed for future camping, photography, and traveling which Johanna enjoyed. Johanna finished her senior year at Phoenix Union High School and in 1947 met Joseph Gossen. They enjoyed a one-year courtship and married on September 16, 1948. Honeymooning in the Grand Canyon and areas of California, the two newlyweds began a journey together that lasted for 73 wonderful years. Johanna loved running a household but enjoyed raising children too. Their first child, Jim, was born in September of 1949, followed by twin sons, John and Jerry, three years later.
Johanna’s German heritage was a big part of her life. In 1951, she was instrumental in forming the Edelweiss Alpine dancers, a German Schuhplattling group. She and Joe performed all over Arizona for over 40 years. The family quickly outgrew their small cottage located on 48th Street and McDowell and purchased a home in Scottsdale right before their fourth son, Jeff, was born. Johanna loved her boys but wanted to try for a girl, and in 1962 their daughter Gretchen was born. Family camping was a way of life and so was scouting. Johanna was a Girl Scout leader for many years and enjoyed the outdoors. She loved to travel and never missed an opportunity. In their motorhome, Joe and Johanna traveled to Alaska and from the west coast to the east coast. She loved to travel by air as well, going to Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. Cruising by large ships as well as river boats rounded out her traveling experiences.
Family was everything to Johanna. She was so proud of her five children, eleven grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. Johanna is preceded in death by her parents, brother, husband Joe, sons Jim and Jeff, and daughter-in-law Cindy. Johanna is survived by sons John (Shery) and Jerry (Tina) Gossen; daughter Gretchen (Mark) Erickson; daughter-in-law Ginger Gossen; grandchildren Ryan (Jennifer), Jordan (Robyn), Nathan, Michael (Rianne) Gossen, Reverend Christopher Gossen, Stephen, David (Janae) Erickson, Kyle (Tawny) Gossen, Jessica (Chris) Scarborough, Katie (Jordan) Leitson, Rachel Gossen; and great-grandchildren Lukas, Harvey, Dane, Kinsley, Eliana, Asher, Jack, Ella, Mark, and Hayden. Even though she is no longer with us, we can remember her and all the memories she shared at family gatherings and her travels through the abundant photos she captured and her legacy of love.