Santa's Senior Spotlight
Johanna Guzman

Johanna Guzman

Meet Johanna Guzman, a woman of multiple past experiences, callings. and love of her former and current family. In fact this interview was given with four generations of Johanna's family in attendance, the youngest being a great granddaughter and a great grandson, granddaughter, and her daughter, Sally who helped her mother with remembering events, dates, and situations from her past.

Mrs. Guzman, born to a Swedish father and Scottish mother comes from Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love with five siblings, all of whom are still alive. She was married to a man who swept her off her feet almost literally. The entire interview was full of memories of her husband, father, and a life of her own humanitarian pursuits. She has spent her life giving of herself to the poor, disabled children, and adults in need of a caring, loving, and gracious teacher and friend.

Her father made electronic parts for what was to become significant in the first moon exploration. As for her husband who is deceased, he was of Porto Rican heritage and raised in Spanish Harlem. Johanna could not utter a sentence without lauding him for his many attributes, not the least of which was sweeping her off her feet on the dance floor as well as building a covered wagon and moving his entire family from Pennsylvania to San Antonio, Texas where Johanna spent a great chunk of her life. It is remarkable that the interviewer and interviewee share multiple experiences. Both graduated from the same university, both were special education teachers, both have titanium holding them together and the list goes on.

After years as a paraprofessional working with physically handicapped children, Johanna decided to go back to school and became a special education teacher in San Antonio, Texas. It was here that she and her husband raised their family while they both worked full time careers.

She laughed, smiled broadly, and told the interviewer, "My husband wanted to be a cowboy and he did skits as one for tourists in and around the attractions in San Antonio like the Alamo." At the same time she mused that she was a lifeguard in New Jersey long ago. That's how they met- on the beach.

Almost as if a fleeting thought, she laughingly stated that, "We come from immigrants and Alaska is a state of people from faraway places." Almost at the same breath, Johanna said, "You know I can speak some German, French, Latin, Swedish and maybe more. But I've forgotten a lot of them."

As the interview progressed, it became apparent that this interviewee was a woman for all seasons. She's done so much, lived in so many places, and had so many fine experiences. She's loved so many people and when talking about the North Pole Senior Center, Jana, Benny, Hunter, Sharron, Goldie brought tears of happiness to her eyes.

"I can't get out of my house due to physical issues and Hunter and Sharron always go out of their way to come here and bring me meals."

Again her wonderful daughter, Sally talked about her mom loving to go to the center before the pandemic changed everything. Johanna loved bingo, birthday parties, fabulous once a month dinner, tours, boy scout dinners and so much more. Both women looked at the interviewer with wistful tears in their eyes and words of love for everyone at the Center. This was a highly emotional testimony of gratitude.

Without Sally's help presently, Johanna could not get around due to her physical issues. Sally is a behavioral mental health assistant for the US Army and seems to be able to aid her mom, her daughter, her grandchildren and do it all with a smile. Her daughter Makayla and her two children live in the same house with Johanna and so there is a network to be there in case of need.

Johanna kissed her two greatgrandchildren and proudly introduced them making sure that the interviewer realized that their names were taken from mythological gods' names: Apollo and Osiiris. In summation, what a fantastic family, what an engaging story. They would say," What do you expect. This is Alaska. This is North Pole. We are part of the immigrant experience, and we love it."

Interview and story by John K. Spitzberg 3/2022
Photo by Santa's Senior Center.

2024 Officers & Board of Directors

President: Joseph Gelinas
(elected 10/2022 1st term) 2024

Vice President: Lamie Ellsworth
(elected 10/2023 1st term) 2025

Secretary: Sharon Corbett
(elected 10/2023 2nd term) 2025

Treasurer: Rochelle Renner
(elected 10/2023 1st term) 2025

Board Members

Cora Williams
(elected 10/2023 1st term) 2025

Candy Clarke
(elected 10/2023 1st term) 2025

Judith Hastings
(elected 10/2022 1st term) 2024

Business Links

17 Mile Homemakers
Contact: Dianne Doody  488-8266

Fairbanks Native Association-Community Services

Friends of the NP Branch Library

New Hope Quilters

North Pole Community Chamber of Commerce

Timber Creek Senior Living
Timber Creek Senior Living
Contact: Ranae Browning

Santa's Seniors Spotlight

1st Senior Spotlight - Ellen Nelson

2nd Senior Spotlight - Harold Tilleson

3rd Senior Spotlight - Don Dahlke

4th Senior Spotlight - Lenora Conkle

5th Senior Spotlight - Jeannette Gaul

6th Senior Spotlight - Eleanor Smith

7th Senior Spotlight - Ken Hobson

8th Senior Spotlight - Dolores Adams

9th Senior Spotlight - Leon LaSalle

10th Senior Spotlight - Lucille Reese

11th Senior Spotlight - Michael Thurman

12th Senior Spotlight - Ethel Stoneman

13th Senior Spotlight - Harold Lee Saylor

14th Senior Spotlight - Alma Rider

15th Senior Spotlight - Chuck & Mary Holt

16th Senior Spotlight - Pat Thurman

17th Senior Spotlight - Carl Gaul

18th Senior Spotlight - Bonnie Carriker

19th Senior Spotlight - Wayne & Beverley Million

20th Senior Spotlight - Hunter

21st Senior Spotlight - Pat Goble

22nd Senior Spotlight - John Boulette

23rd Senior Spotlight - Louise & Augie Niemann

24th Senior Spotlight - Irene Silvers

25th Senior Spotlight - Joe Geese

26th Senior Spotlight - Anna Powell

27th Senior Spotlight - Bill Blockcolsky

28th Senior Spotlight - Elaine Hawks

29th Senior Spotlight - Joe Shedd

30th Senior Spotlight - Victoria Thompson

31st Senior Spotlight - William Sanderson

32nd Senior Spotlight - Ardena Lavira Roufs Morway

33rd Senior Spotlight - Walter Gelinas

34th Senior Spotlight - Donna Pease Krier

35th Senior Spotlight - Carlo Zanazzo

36th Senior Spotlight - Norm & Fae Grantham

37th Senior Spotlight - Joyce Miller

38th Senior Spotlight - Les Warnke

39th Senior Spotlight - Gloria Brines

40th Senior Spotlight - Larry White

41st Senior Spotlight - Sharon Kubacki

42nd Senior Spotlight - Don Woods

43rd Senior Spotlight - Goldie Southwood

44th Senior Spotlight - Rick Thumma

45th Senior Spotlight - Jana Belle Gordon

46th Senior Spotlight - Barbara Sevier

47th Senior Spotlight - John Fischer

48th Senior Spotlight - Ellie Herrera

49th Senior Spotlight - Pat Arthur

50th Senior Spotlight - Virginia Kaufman

51st Senior Spotlight - Sharon White

52nd Senior Spotlight - Sharon Geese

53rd Senior Spotlight - Frances Grace Cork

54th Senior Spotlight - Benjamin (Benny) Williams

55th Senior Spotlight - Jo Small

56th Senior Spotlight - Theodore Jenkins (Mr. J)