Gayle Johansson

Obituary of Gayle Evelyn Johansson

Gayle Evelyn (Kalseim) Johansson, born February 25, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, peacefully passed away on February 18, 2024, in Oroville, California. She was the cherished daughter of Gaylord and Evelyn Kalseim. Gayle is preceded in death by her brother, Ron Kalseim, and sister-in-law, Carol Kalseim. She is survived by her beloved family: her devoted husband, Karl Johansson; her loving daughter, Kristen (Adam) Wilson; her loving son, James (Nicole) Johansson; her adored grandchildren, Jack, Luke, and Katelyn Gayle; her nephew Keith Kalseim (Alameda, CA); and her niece Kathleen (Kalseim) Beede (Barington, NH).

Gayle's formative years were spent in Highland Park, Illinois where she flourished near the shores of Lake Michigan. As the youngest, by ten years, among her brother and cousins, she was dearly doted on and cherished.  A spirited tomboy at heart, Gayle always looked up to her older brother, Ron. She attended Highland Park High School before pursuing her education at the University of Wisconsin and later transferring to the University of Colorado, majoring in Physical Education, where she played basketball and field hockey. It was there, in a ballroom dance class, that she encountered the love of her life, Karl Johansson.

In the early 1960s, Gayle and Karl embarked on a lifelong journey together, marrying and relocating to California, where Karl pursued his medical education at the University of California, Berkeley. Supporting (“helping pay for”) Karl’s medical school, Gayle taught P.E. at Berkley High School and Capuchino High School.

They immersed themselves in city life, residing in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, and relishing in the cultural experiences the vibrant city had to offer. Throughout her life, she would hold dear the family tradition of attending the San Francisco Ballet, season tickets to the San Francisco Symphony, as well as the San Francisco 49ers and Giants.

Upon Karl's completion of medical school, they moved to Portland, Oregon, where Gayle welcomed their son, James (Jamie), into the world.

Karl would enlist in the United States Navy as a flight surgeon, during the Vietnam War, and soon the family would move to Moffit Field Naval Air Station in Sunnyvale, California, where her daughter, Kristen, would be born.

With a newborn and a toddler in the house, and a husband away on long deployments, Gayle happened to tune the radio to KEAR 610AM, Family Radio. It was through the radio that she would find the strength to manage the home, not just for that moment, as it turned out, but for the rest of her life. While listening to Family Radio, Gayle prayed the sinner’s prayer and accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Little did she know it was a decision that would transform not only her, but her family and other communities God would call her to.

With a newfound identity in Christ, Gayle began her true calling, a compassion to lead others to salvation and equipping them to grow in Christ. Gayle’s compassion for, and commitment to those who were hurting both physically and emotionally never waned. She began running Sunday school classes, teaching Child Evangelism Fellowship, and organizing women’s Bible studies and retreats. The greatest blessing she gave the family would be winning both her children and husband to the Lord.

Following the family’s Navy days, Karl’s residency, as an OB/GYN, began at San Francisco General Hospital. Moving to a new mission field, San Bruno, CA, Gayle’s commitment to bringing her children up in the ways of the Lord meant becoming Sunday School Superintendent at the church and volunteering heavily as her church began a Christian school. Always a crusader for Christ, in the 70’s that meant volunteering as an alter counselor at Billy Graham Crusades, participating in the “I Found It” campaign, and introducing the Bay Area to Evangelism Explosion, going door to door with the message of salvation.

Gayle didn’t just win people to the Lord; she was committed to equipping them spiritually and emotionally to thrive in their walk with Jesus and then challenging them to win others to the Lord. She quickly discovered, to do that, you must help them overcome their fears, self-doubts, past mistakes and how to be scripturally led by the Holy Spirit. She understood that even Jesus wasn’t content just in calling people to “Follow me…” but counseling them to be “…fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). Gayle would fondly recall her spiritual growth at The Church of the Highlands, and the church’s growth from 30 people to over 1000 attendees before the Lord would call her to another mission field.  

Not many people know that Gayle transferred from the University of Wisconsin to Colorado University because she wanted to go west and meet a cowboy. Gayle would always laugh at “God’s sense of humor”; she may not have married a cowboy but, with God’s intervention, a doctor who would take her as far west as you can get in the Continental United States, Humboldt County. Fortuna, CA was a long way from Chicago.  

Gayle would immediately plug into a small church in Fortuna, Calvary Christian Center, and continue her ministries. Only this time, in addition to retreats and Bible studies, she would add participating in the choir and on worship teams. It was here she would begin a passion and dream, lay person counseling.

Of course, there was a Christian school connected with the church and now with elementary aged children she never lost sight of ministering to and developing the spiritual needs of her family. She would even return to teaching PE as a volunteer, drive for every field trip, direct school musicals and create elaborate harvest parties in October. She was even successful in getting the church board to allow her now junior high school daughter to start a cheerleading squad. No small task in an Assembly of God church in the early ‘80’s; although, the skirts were a little longer than the girls might have wanted. Though God increased her ministry schedule, she was always there for prayer and a timely scripture verse as needed by the family, and she always had dinner ready at 6:30pm.

As Karl’s medical practice flourished and her children grew into teenagers, so did the challenges that this world throws at all families. If there was a single gift that Gayle gave her family it was a strong spiritual base that could not be ignored and that all challenges could only be conquered through direction found in scripture and prayer. This gift continues in the family, even to this day.

In 1992, with the kids away at college, Karl and Gayle began to hear God’s calling to move yet again. This time, Karl would leave private practice and work for a hospital. They seem to think that this was God’s call to begin semi-retirement now as empty nesters. Gayle would envision spending more time traveling, weekends at the house in Clear Lake and visits to their favorite spots in Mendocino. Once again, Gayle would come to reflect on God’s sense of humor.

Moving to Oroville in 1993, Gayle would begin her ministries at the Oroville Church of the Nazarene. Her ministries now involved helping start, along with Melissa Miller, a women’s ministry at the church, Heart and Hand. Her enjoyment of equipping other women to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus daily and find significance and value in Him never stopped. The Lord honored Gayle with increased ministries and meeting her heart’s desire to minister to a greater number of people.

Gayle would joyfully return to school, only this time to formally further her career and passion for counseling. She would work for and receive her certificate in Biblical counseling and, along with Sue O’Hanlon, start the Hope Counseling Center at the Oroville Church of the Nazarene. This calling would be her passion until her final days with us on earth. Throughout her ministry of counseling, the family would marvel at Gayle’s steadfast belief that there was not one person who was beyond spiritual help or benefit from fervent prayer to live a life abundant in Christ.

In Oroville, Gayle would be blessed to watch her own family grow as Jamie and Kristen would also move to Oroville to be closer to their parents and eventually give Gayle a son-in-law, Adam Wilson, and daughter-in-law, Nicole.

The Lord also allowed Gayle to revisit her early children’s ministries in Christ, blessing her again with the opportunity to “Train up a child in the way (they) should go (and) even when (they are) old will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) She would cherish every moment with her grandchildren Jack, Luke and Katelyn Gayle. Attending all the school musicals, chapels, sporting events they participated in and even just enjoying being poolside with them and a lot of snacks. Most importantly, her delight was regularly meeting with each one individually or together for prayers and Bible studies.

Gayle always appreciated rainbows and would always comment to her children when they saw one about the real promise from God around it, He is in control, there is nothing He can’t help you overcome, and He never breaks his promise (Genesis 9:9-17). Understanding that, while following hard after Jesus and resting upon His promise, is the only way we can have that abundant life she spent her life trying to equip every person God brought into her life.

For those who now realize the blessings her spiritual wisdom, ceaseless prayers and compassion meant in our lives, the path here on earth does seem a little darker and uncertain without her guidance. But she would certainly counter, it was always Christ, working through her, that gave us the courage, joy and hope we enjoyed with her. The family, Karl, Kristen, Adam, Jamie, Nicole, Jack, Luke and Katelyn will miss her for a short time in the face of eternity. She leaves us with the foundation that those real victories, celebrations and rejoicing we experienced together came through Christ and answered prayers. And yet even in those dark moments of life and its struggle, through the tears there can be a peace that passes all understanding. He is our true Guide:

“And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the thing I do, and I do not forsake them.” (Isaish 42:16)

That is God’s promise and Gayle’s time here on earth, once born to a new life in Christ, was dedicated that all should know the glory of God and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior (Romans 6:23).

Gayle will be remembered for her warmth, her adventurous spirit, and her unwavering love for Jesus and her family. She leaves behind a legacy of love and laughter that will continue to live on in the hearts of all who were fortunate enough to know her.

A Memorial Service to honor Gayle's life will be held at the Oroville Chuch of the Nazarene 11:00 A.M. on Thursday March 21, 2024. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Gayle Johansson Memorial Scholarship Fund in Gayle's memory;

Arrangements entrusted to Ramsey Funeral Home. (530) 534-3877


Funeral Service

11:00 am
Thursday, March 21, 2024
Nazarene Church
2238, Monte Vista Ave
Oroville, California, United States
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