Jon Akselsen: Family Man, Veteran, Dog Lover, Dog Trainer, Marijuana Grower
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Born in Oakland, California, on March 10, 1943, Jon was named Danny O’Neill by his birth mother, who gave him up reluctantly. When he was adopted as an infant by Ivar and Dorothy Akselsen, he was given a new name.
Jon grew up in Oakland and in Lafayette. He graduated from Robert Louis Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, then attended the University of Oregon in Eugene, and finally Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He was a student of architecture, an experimenter and creative iconoclast.
Jon was a veteran of the Vietnam war and was a war dog handler. He was a life long dog lover and dog trainer.
Jon met his first wife Shirley at military training camp. The family, with their two daughters, Jona and Kendra, lived in San Francisco, where Jon worked in the fine gentlemen’s clothing trade. After their divorce in the early 70’s, Shirley took their daughters to live in Washington state and Jon moved to Humboldt County.
In 1978 Jon married Susan, and together they raised three sons, Alden, Ian and Sean. Sean was murdered in 2003 at the age of 19. The loss of his son was a terrible tragedy for the whole community and especially for Jon, who valued family above all other things.
Several years after Jon and Susan were divorced, Jon married Janet Young, who gave him Alice, his youngest child.
Jon was a sophisticated and well-spoken man. He had a beautiful voice and exquisite posture. His favorite thing was to dress in fine clothing and go out to elegant dining places in San Francisco. He was also a skilled homestead manager and loved to wield tools, carve terraces, build roads, and grow marijuana. He was a good farmer and produced consistently excellent product for many years, of which he was very proud. From the late 70’s to the early 90’s Jon spent many an evening assisting Susan in running the Garberville Theatre.
Jon was diagnosed with cancer of the soft palate in May, 2016, and fought it for eighteen months until he could no longer fight. Jon’s wife Janet, his daughter Jona, and his daughter Alice took care of him during his illness. His daughters were at his side during his last months; their loving care was a blessing and a gift that vastly improved Jon’s quality of life. Jon was, every day, on his feet, independent, and self-determined, up until the day he died. His death was sudden, surprising, and peaceful. He died as he wished to: in his own bed, in his own house, that he built himself, with his family close.
He leaves his wife, Janet, of Redway; ex-wife Shirley, of Washington; ex-wife Susan, of Whitethorn; sister Patty (husband — Larry) of Lake Tahoe; daughter Jona (Sean), of Washington; daughter Kendra (David) of Oak Run, CA; son Alden (Julia) of Eureka; son Ian (Jamie) of Redway; daughter Alice, of Capitola; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial gathering and celebration of Jon’s life will be held at Beginning’s Octagon On 10 March (Jon’s Birthday) 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Please bring a potluck snack plate, salad or other light dish. For more info contact 923-1053.