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Vern Johansson

January 4, 2022

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Toronto Optimists, Optimists Alumni

Vern Johansson passed away at home on January 4, 2022 after a short battle with cancer (News, In Memory). His legacy within the Optimists organizations is one that has left everyone who has known him or even briefly met him with a long-lasting impression of one of the kindest hearts who had a wonderful ability to make you laugh about nearly anything.

On our website, you will find many contributions from Vern within our Gallery Photos, in our Memorabilia where he documented the history of the Toronto Optimists (THE UNSTOPPABLE FORCE AND THE IMMOVABLE OBJECT), and more recently in his wonderful tribute to his dear friend and our website founder, Ray Roussel.


We are now pleased to provide you with a new slideshow of photos of Vern from our Gallery, with background music of the tune More from the motion picture Mondo Cane (a piece played by the Toronto Optimists in Vern's early years there).



A message from Vern's family...


It is with a tremendous amount of sadness that we announce Vern's passing after a short bout with cancer.

He will be greatly missed by his beloved wife of fifty-one years, Jennifer, by his daughter Adrienne, and his son, Brendan. Vern was also beloved 'Grumps', to his grandchildren, Jet and Laurel. He will be greatly missed by his sisters and brother, and of course, by all of his friends.

Vern was a kind, compassionate, hard working, quick witted, uniquely funny, and most importantly, a truly loving man. All of the above attributes (perhaps with the exception of 'loving') contributed to his great success in the world of advertising, where he started as a copy writer, working his way up to Creative Director, where he lent his unique perspective to many successful campaigns for notable brands (Honda, Molson Canadian, the Toronto Blue Jays) during the 80s and 90s.

It was during the 90s that Vern discovered a much easier way to make a living, using his strong voice to voice overs for both television and radio. He told you that Mr. Christie makes good cookies, that Canadian Tire was for more than just tires, and he was both a little ashamed and a little proud that he tried to get you to try McDonald's pizza when they launched that ill-fated endeavour.

After over thirty years living in Etobicoke, Vern and Jennifer moved to the small town of Waterford, ON, where Vern truly embraced small-town living. He took up volunteering and fundraising for local causes, and he discovered a new passion, working in local theatre. From writing and directing short plays for the Waterford Lantern Tour, to acting in a one man show about Mark Twain, Vern loved to perform.

And that love of performing was honed as a teenager when Vern joined his life-long passion, drum corps. As a drummer and then Drum Major for the Toronto Optimists, Vern made many, many memories and life-long friends that he always cherished.

Vern was extremely fond of all the dogs his wife Jennifer showed up with over the years, with Tess the Bernese Mountain Dog being his greatest companion. If you are so inclined, please honour Vern by making a donation to your favourite animal charity.

Due to Covid, there will be no funeral, but we are hoping to have a celebration of Vern's life sometime in the spring, at the much loved Shrine on Lakeshore Ave. in Toronto. Vern always said this is where he and Jennifer met, whereas Jennifer says they first met at Porter Stadium. It was one of the few things they disagreed on.

Thank you,

Jennifer, Adrienne, and Brendan.


...........We Remember!

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