Jon Akselsen: Family Man, Veteran, Dog Lover, Dog Trainer, Marijuana Grower

This section includes both obituaries and memories. Honoring our loved ones who have died does not end immediately after their passing. We recognize that… so we’re extending our obituary section to include individuals who may have left a long time ago. If you want to remember someone who is gone, either recently or longer ago, please send a photo and a few sentences to mskymkemp@gmail.com. 

Jon Ivar AkselsenBorn 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.

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22 comments

  • unbridled phillistine

    Sorry for such a huge loss…. Hope when the time comes I too can live up to this man and pass on my own terms, My bed, My house, My time. Thoughts and prayers to those left to grieve.

  • Guesty McGuesterson

    This guy sounds awesome. I wish I could’ve met him.

  • Blue Eyed John-
    I loved him a little bit.
    He liked a dry martini in a frozen glass and the New York Times.
    We talked about the world. We talked about our world.
    I learned so much.
    A beautiful soul.
    A life well lived.
    To those he left behind,
    Much love.

  • Great spirit, a warrior comes to you, like an arrow shot into the sun. . .

  • A total stranger to me, but his beautiful obituary brought a tear to my eye. Goodluck to all.

  • May we all be able to pass in the same spot, at home with family.
    We will never forget Sean and hope he&his father get to fly free together now.
    RIP u were one of our forefathers of our backwoods homesteading alternative way of life. Definitely hope someone recorded his life history! May the path u carved be walked by many, thank you for it.

  • R.I.P. Blue Eyed John

  • Every encounter i ever had with this man was good.. Always wondered who he was… RIP

  • Goodbye, John.

  • Harold & Mary Day

    RIP Jon. You will be missed.

  • Jon was a class act. Smart. Engaging. Sophisticated while down to earth. He once taught me that on a man’s suit coat, only the top button was ever to be used.
    If I remember correctly, I believe Jon will live on as a character (and the noted scene where he’s pouring cream in his coffee) in Gaunjasaurus Rex!
    BTW. When did he die? Article doesn’t make that clear…… Kym?

  • RIP john,you left this world a better place because of you.my sincere condolences to the family

  • We shall not know his like again

  • Carolyn Darlington

    Sad days in the Whitethorn Valley as we’ve lost both Valery McKee and Blue Eyed John. Both amazing people and class acts all the way. R.I.P. I will sure miss seeing John in his button down shirts amongst all the plaid and Carharts.

  • Blue-eyed John, that guy was a lover.
    I remember him in the 70’s driving that old green pickup
    with not one but two brunets by his side, and a big smile on his face…
    Adios…

  • I am sorry for the family’s loss.

  • I’m proud to have known you Jon. You were an amazing friend, boss and mentor. I will always consider you like a father. Your family is my family and I will always be here for them. thank you for everything. I love and miss you greatly. Goodbye.

  • I’m so sorry Janet for your loss
    Roland always enjoyed him
    I hope they are being with each other

  • Jon is my half brother. I met him only one time at our mother’s funeral, Lillian. The obituary is very informative for me. Thank you!

    Jon has a sister, Patty Orlando(1950), Carnelian Bay and a brother, Bob Harms(1946), South Lake Tahoe.

    I was born 1946, Wilton, CA.

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