John Jay Gagnon, known to his wife as “Dip” and to his grandchildren as “Woods Grandpa,” passed away quietly in his sleep in the early morning of Sunday, April 7, 2019 at his home in Charlevoix, MI. He was 83 years-old and the husband of Carol (Boucher) Gagnon. They shared fifty-five years of marriage together.
Born April 4, 1936 in Sault Ste. Marie, MI, John was the son of William and Ella Gagnon. He was raised in Cedarville, and he enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of nineteen. Participating as a medical technician, it was during this time that he obtained both his preliminary skills as an X-ray technician and a sailor vocabulary that would remain with him for life. He served his country for five years.
In 1962, John met his wife, Carol, at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. Their children would later report this as symbolic. The two were married in May of 1963.
John obtained his X-Ray Technician Certification from St. Mary’s School in Grand Rapids, MI in 1964, whereupon he moved to Charlevoix, where both husband and wife began careers at Charlevoix Area Hospital. It was there that John worked in X-ray for five years, after which he courageously made the move to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher. Accepted at Central Michigan University, the young family moved to Mt. Pleasant, where John earned his BS in Early Childhood Education. Upon graduation, he returned with his family to Charlevoix, where he had been offered a teaching job at St. Mary’s Catholic School. Here he was known for his practical jokes with the staff, his wooden paddle, and his winter class ice-skating parties at his home. A teacher for fourteen years, he loved his job with the students, and, despite his no-nonsense style, former students remember him fondly, as well.
John returned to his role as an X-ray technician for Charlevoix Area Hospital in 1998, maintaining this role for three years. He then transitioned to the role of medical courier for the Northern Michigan area, where he self-proclaimed that he was “on emergency medical call.”
An avid outdoorsman, John enjoyed deer hunting, fishing, tending to his yard, and continually trying to outwit the squirrels. He regularly tended to the wildlife and adored his cat, Oiler, who took pleasure in watching Jeopardy with him. He loved to tell stories, and you could be sure that sixty-percent of every story was true. He will be remembered for his (often) inappropriate jokes, his colorful language, and his love of Duct Tape.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his four children, David (Theresa) Gagnon of Petoskey; Michelle (Ed) Drapeau of Traverse City, Cheryl (Rob) Wegener of Brighton; and MaryBeth Gagnon of Juneau, AK, as well as his two grandchildren, Madison and Matthew Wegener. He also leaves sisters-in-law Gail Addy of Fenton, Linda Crittenden of Davison, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Ella; his step-siblings Kenneth, Floyd, Clifford, Robert, William, Leonard, and Annabel; and brothers-in-law Donald Crittenden and Tom Addy.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, April 23, from 6:00-8:00 p.m., at Mortensen Funeral Home, 209 State St., Charlevoix, with a Rosary at 7:30 p.m. at the Winchester Chapel. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated in memory of John on Wednesday, April 24, at 12:00 p.m., at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1005 Bridge St., Charlevoix.
Memorial donations in memory of John may be sent to Hospice of Northwest Michigan, St. Mary’s Catholic School of Charlevoix, or the Charlevoix Humane Society. Messages of condolence and memories of John are welcome at www.mortensenfuneralhomes.com.