Allen R. (Johnny) Janz, 89, Fargo, ND, passed away Saturday, March 14, 2015, at Maryhill Manor in Enderlin, North Dakota.
Allen Robert Janz was born and raised in Enderlin on April 24, 1925. He was the son of Robert and Clara (Fritz) Janz. His dad nicknamed him John, and everyone knew him as Johnny Janz.
John spent his early years in Enderlin playing Legion baseball and attended Enderlin High School playing baseball, basketball, and football. John graduated with the class of 1943, but was already serving in the United States Navy enlisting in February 1943.
After enlisting, John trained as a radioman at Farragut Naval Training Station, Bayview, Idaho. He received his assignment to the Naval Station in Bremerton, WA and was deployed aboard the USS Gambier Bay CVE73, an aircraft carrier that was sunk by the Japanese in the South Pacific on October 25, 1944. John was one of almost 800 men that survived in the ocean for 2 days and 2 nights until rescued by a Naval Patrol Craft. Following a one month leave, he returned to Bremerton and was assigned to the not-yet built carrier USS Rendova. Awaiting completion, John played baseball at the naval base. The Rendova shipped out of Portland, OR, and transported supplies and planes from San Diego to Hawaii, and eventually supported land and air attacks off New Guinea and Guatalcanal. The USS Gambier Bay and personnel received the American Presidential Unit Citation to Taffy 3 for extraordinary heroism in the Battle of Leyte Gulf off Samar. For his service, Janz received the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Service Medal with three Bronze stars, the Philippine Liberation Medal with two Bronze stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. In April 1946, he was honorably discharged. John also received an Armed Forces Reserve Medal for 32 years of service in the Naval Reserve, and earned the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
Johnny played baseball at Kensal, ND in the summer of 1946, before attending North Dakota State School of Science for Television and Radio Electronics. He also played baseball, football, and basketball for the Wildcats and graduated in 1948. In 1996, he was inducted into the NDSCS Wildcat Athletics Hall of Fame.
In 1948, Janz opened his own repair shop in Enderlin, and also began working for the Enderlin Post Office. In 1968, he became Postmaster and served in that capacity until retiring in 1980.
Johnny was active in Babe Ruth and American Legion Baseball in the Enderlin area for many years. It was from Legion competition that he gained the experience that made him a prominent figure in amateur baseball years later. While playing with the Enderlin Legion team they were state champions in 1940 and 1941 along with a runner-up finish in 1942. The 1940 Enderlin team also won the regional championship in York, NE. After serving in the armed forces and attending college, Johnny joined the Enderlin Independent (Indies) team in 1948. Enderlin was state champions in 1952, 1953, 1955, and runner-up in 1954. A pitcher-outfielder, Janz played on all of those teams and was an all-state tourney selection five times. He was named North Dakota’s MVP in 1952 and pitched a perfect no hit, no run game in the 1955 state playdown. Janz retired as a player in 1962. He was inducted into the North Dakota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.
Johnny married his baseball coach’s daughter, Dorothy Redmond on June 1, 1952. Married for 61 years, they raised two children in Enderlin. John was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, First Lutheran Church, and Cormorant Lutheran Church. He served on the Board of Directors for the Enderlin Golf Course, Enderlin Park District, and Enderlin Baseball Association, and was a Life Member of the Enderlin VFW and American Legion, and member of the Eagles in Valley City.
Johnny and Dorothy spent many memorable early years at hundreds of baseball games, and with their children camping at Lake Ida with friends and relatives. They also enjoyed many Canada fishing trips to Flin Flon and Cranberry Portage with family and friends. Following his USPS retirement, John worked as Director of Postal Operations at Concordia College from 1981-1984 and moved to Fargo/Moorhead and Lake Ida, near Cormorant, MN. They spent their spring through fall months in Minnesota, and enjoyed 23 years wintering at Green Bay South near LaFeria, TX, until 2008. In 2007, John and Dorothy were selected for the second “Honor Flight” to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Johnny finally got his “hole in one” on a 193 yard drive on Hole #13 at The Palms Mid Valley Golf Course, Mercedes, TX on February 14, 2000. John is remembered for the bounce in his step, his love of fishing and the lake, being a die-hard Twins baseball and Bison football fan, listening and dancing to Frank Sinatra music, and enjoying his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Johnny lost the love of his life when his wife Dorothy passed away on April 8, 2014.
John is survived by two children: Steven (Kari) Janz, Moose Lake, MN, and Joni (Jeff) Peterson, Fargo, ND; five grandchildren: Brittani Janz, Natalie (Jon) Beckstrand, Jordan (Alyssa) Sauvageau, Zachary Janz, Savanna Sauvageau (fiance Q. Dillon); and seven great grandchildren Emma, Carlos, Julian, Daymian, Nicolas, Quincey, and Peyton. He is also survived by in-laws Donald (Janice) Redmond, Lloyd (Donna) Redmond, Carol Ann Pudwill, Karen Redmond, and many Janz and Redmond nieces and nephews who fondly called him Uncle John.
His grandchildren and their spouses served as Honorary Pallbearers.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy, parents Robert and Clara Janz, brothers Arthur and Lloyd Janz, and in-laws Jesse Lee (Pete) and Lucille Redmond, and Darrell Redmond.