June 3, 2020

Stevens County Times

Your spot for community news in Stevens County, Minnesota

John Zahl and Joanne Thomas

John Joseph Zahl was born in 1950 in Morris, Minnesota and graduated from Morris High School in 1967. He briefly attended St. Cloud State University before joining the United States Navy where he served as a Russian linguist. He has four children – Jennifer, Sarah, Andrew and Daniel from his first marriage. In 1981 he moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota where he started his career with Federal Express.

Elizabeth Joanne Thomas was born in 1961 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and graduated from Pierre Radisson Collegiate in 1979. She moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1980 to attend University of North Dakota. She was employed at United Hospital there.

John and Joanne met in Grand Forks in 1985 and after a whirlwind romance they were married in December of that year. They moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1987 where they made their home of 30 years. John graduated from University of New Mexico and continued his career with Federal Express until his retirement. He then worked part-time with troubled youth in the Albuquerque Public School System. Joanne completed her degree at University of Phoenix and was employed with Eye Associates and University of New Mexico Hospital before finishing her career as a health systems administrator with Health Care Services Corporation. While in New Mexico, they adopted and raised their grandchildren, Justin and Riley. In 2017 they found their dream home in Portapique, Nova Scotia and lived there until the time of their death.

John and Joanne were active in their community. John was an Elder in their local Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque and both John and Joanne remained in close contact with the congregation after they moved to Nova Scotia. They were also very active in supporting animal rescue organizations and adopted dogs and cats of their own. Joanne served on the board of directors of TREY (Trauma Recovery for Exploited Youth) and worked for her local church, St. James Presbyterian as a volunteer for the Laundry Project, helping indigent people. John volunteered at the church as well.

John and Joanne loved to travel and made new friends wherever they went. They were loved and will be deeply missed. Their sudden and untimely death on April 18, 2020 has devastated their family; we take comfort in knowing that they were together during this tragedy and would have found comfort and strength in each other. John and Joanne are now at peace in God’s eternal Kingdom.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Mattatall – Varner Funeral Home, 55 Young Street, Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. If so desired, donations in John and Joanne’s name may be made to your local humane society or a charity of your choice. Private messages of condolence may be sent to the family by viewing John and Joanne’s obituary on-line and selecting “Send A Condolence” at: www.mattatallvarnerfh.com