John William Sjoberg's spirit left his body in the early morning hours of
March 22, 2017, in the
familiar and comfortable environment of home under the compassionate care of Iowa City Hospice. John was 72 and had made Iowa City his home since 1962.
Memorial services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 1, at Zion Lutheran Church, 310 N. Johnson St., Iowa City. Informal attire is requested. Visitation will be after 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the church. A time of fellowship will follow the service. Burial: Oakland Cemetery, Iowa City (near the cemetery section Poets' Corner).
John struggled with health issues throughout his life, beginning with his premature birth in Aurelia, Iowa, on May 26, 1944, when his mother, Barbara (Marsh) Sjoberg, died due to eclampsia.
John was raised in Aurelia by Beth (Pedersen) Sjoberg, the mother who adopted him, and his father, Chester Sjoberg. John and his sister, Jane, enjoyed a happy small town childhood that included summer vacations at their parents' cabin on East Okoboji Lake and later Spirit Lake, as well as visits with Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Bert Haupert in Glidden, Iowa, who were a loving presence in John's life.
John earned a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, where he also played trombone in the UI Marching Band. He was accepted into the UI Writers Workshop (poetry), where he studied with and/or was influenced by Anselm Hollo, Darrell Gray, Ted Berrigan, Robert Creeley, Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsburg and others.
John was an integral member of the Actualist Movement of Iowa City poets in the 1970s and his work is included in The Actualist Anthology by The Spirit That Moves Us Press. (For more information on Actualism see: The Ultimate Actualist Convention: A Detailed View of Iowa City Actualism and Its Migration to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s and 1980s, edited by Morty Sklar, Cinda Kornblum and Dave Morice, publication by The Spirit That Moves Us Press, expected Summer, 2017.)
Allan Kornblum's Toothpaste Press published two books of poetry by John Sjoberg: Hazel (1976) and Some Poems On My Day Off (1984).
Poet John had to keep a day job, so over the years he worked in maintenance at the U.S. Post Office, Seville Apartments and J.C. Penney Co., among other jobs.
He retired early at age 56 due to multiple sclerosis, but remained mobile and active throughout his life and volunteered at the Iowa City Public Library, as well as the AA Intergroup Office. He found serenity and friendship through being a Friend of Bill W.
John found happiness and contentment with his life partner and friend, Jean Hagen, and with a succession of three cats, Liz, Tippy and Mizzy Mo. He was a voracious reader and writer all of his life, and a lover of drawing, nature, cats and watching episodes of "The Big Bang Theory."
Lutheran by nature and nurture and president of his Luther League church group in high school, his response to his diagnosis of MS was "We live by grace."
John was preceded in death by his mothers, Barbara Marsh Sjoberg and Beth Pedersen Sjoberg; his father, Chester Sjoberg; numerous other family members; Jean's parents, Alvin and Monica Hagen; her two brothers, Jon and Alan; and dear friends.
Those left to remember John with love and admiration for his courage and perseverance in living with the challenges of bipolar disorder and multiple sclerosis, for his intellectual curiosity and poetry, and for his kindness, include his life partner, Jean Hagen; his sister and brother-in-law, Jane and Dick George; his nephew, Justin George (Nicol), and their two lovely daughters, Kyra and Gianna; as well as Jean's niece, Alison Roe, and her two awesome kids, Kale and Ayla.
Since John was a generous donor to human rights and peace and justice groups, memorials in his honor are suggested to groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, Amnesty International, ACLU, UNICEF, UNHCR (UN High Commission on Refugees) and Doctors Without Borders. Donations to Coffee House Press also are welcome.
Jean thanks the wonderful nurses and therapists of Mercy Iowa City and Iowa City Hospice.
Online condolences may be sent to www.lensingfuneral.com.