April 19, 1935 – August 6, 2020
Our beloved JoAnn Eklund died on August 6, 2020 at the age of 85, after a long illness, surrounded by her family. She was born to Theodore and Emma (Skaar) Huus on April, 19, 1935 on their farm near Wabek, North Dakota. Her grandparents had immigrated from Hoyland and Masfjorden, Norway and eventually homesteaded and purchased farms near Plaza, North Dakota where other family members had settled. Theo and Emma also purchased a farm near Plaza in 1927 and lived there through 1957. There were 6 children; Ervin, Grace, Lawrence, JoAnn, Shirley and Kenneth. JoAnn attended grade school in Wabek and graduated from Plaza High School in 1953. She was a cheerleader for three years and a basketball player. She had plans to attend college for a teaching degree but her senior summer, after graduation, while working at the Super Value Store in Parshall, she met the man of her dreams and lifelong love, Lew Eklund. They married after a whirlwind romance on October 25, 1953 at the Lutheran Church in Wabek.
The couple first moved to Riverdale, North Dakota where Lew worked on the Garrison Dam as a driller, then moved to Moorcroft, Wyoming to explore for uranium. In total, the family would move 44 times in 11 years before permanently calling Carlin, Nevada “home”. They lived in North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Montana, Nebraska and Colorado following the drill jobs, some states several different times and different towns. They had four children; Candice Lou, Lance Joel, Sheri Lynn and Valerie Jo. Together they loved, sacrificed and struggled greatly financially early in their marriage but with those Norwegian North Dakota farming roots and work ethics and with the help of friends, they were able to start Eklund Drilling Company on June 1, 1960.
Eklund Drilling Company was the first drilling company to drill for microscopic gold, so prevalent in global mines today. Many of those drilling and sampling techniques used in the 1960’s discovery of the Newmont Gold Company goldfield and the Carlin Trend were developed by Eklund Drilling and are still used today. As Eklund Drilling was growing and expanding, JoAnn worked for the company doing all the office work while Lew would be out in the field drilling or soliciting jobs.
JoAnn was always the rock solid foundation of support for the family 24/7, always making sure the kids were well taken care of, creating unforgettable custom birthday cakes with big parties, running to games or events for the kids and making each and every holiday magical. She became quite a renowned cook and baker and her kitchen was always full of homemade pies, cookies, cakes, bars and other delicious treats. Her Norwegian traditions and dishes were passed down to every one of her five generations of the family. The values of family and life learned early on in those farm settings carried throughout JoAnn and Lew’s lives. The strength, support and unconditional love of family was their conviction and they spread that love and compassion to all that they met.
Lew and JoAnn owned Eklund Drilling Company from 1960-1988, at which time their son, Lance, and his wife Joanne, purchased the company and continued to build the reputation and legacy until selling to Boart Longyear in 2008. Eklund Drilling Company was committed to their clients, their employees and safety of all and well-known for their generosity to their employees, the communities they lived in and the quality of service given to each and every client.
Lew and JoAnn also raised and showed Appaloosa horses for many years. As with the drilling company, that commitment to excellence was always there driving them to become the very best. Their hard work and dedication led to their first National Championship in 1975 with their stallion “The Executive”. Their closed book breeding operation led to over 60 National or World Championships and as a result, the Executive, Lew and JoAnn and several of their mares were inducted into the National Appaloosa Horse Club’s Hall of Fame in 2003. Lew and JoAnn also started and produced, with the help of many volunteers, the Sagebrush Circuit Appaloosa Horse Show held in Elko, NV, which ran for almost 20 years and was one of the biggest Appaloosa shows in the country. They also funded the National Appaloosa Horse Club Youth Foundation scholarships for many years. Through the many aspects of being successful breeders, the most fulfilling and exciting role to JoAnn was staying up all night with Lew and the pregnant mares, helping them foal or just watching, mesmerized by those newborn beautifully colored Appaloosa foals and dreaming of their futures. The Eklunds’ horses were highly prized nationally and also have been sold and shipped to Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, France, The Netherlands and Italy.
If the true test of a person is how they contribute in their community, JoAnn and Lew were a testament to the term of “giving back”. Because of their success and appreciation for all that mining and the City of Carlin had done for them, JoAnn and Lew were committed to giving back in every way they could; volunteering time and resources, organizing, working on committees or simply helping fund the many projects undertaken by the City of Carlin, Carlin Combined Schools, kids’ sports or club activities and independent projects. JoAnn served on the American Legion Scholarship Committee for many years and enjoyed watching the students grow and develop through their years in Carlin and beyond. She took an active interest in many activities in Carlin and baked pies, cakes, bars or dishes for any event and took cherished Christmas trays to the Police Station, Post Office and anyone else lucky enough to receive one. JoAnn was also active in the annual Museum’s fundraiser, the Great Humboldt Duck Race, and because she bought so many duck entries, she was the Lucky Winner several times! Her heart was made of pure gold and she loved the selfless reward of giving back, most of the time quietly and anonymously. For their many acts of kindness and involvement in the community, Lew and JoAnn were named Carlin Citizens of the Year in 2002. They also received the Life Time Achievement Award from the City of Carlin, Elko County Commission and the State of Nevada as well as the U.S. Congressional Special Recognition Award. For their contributions to the Carlin Senior Center, they were honored with a permanent plaque at its entry.
JoAnn’s greatest love was her family and it was central to everything she did. She loved going to her children, grandchildren and eventually great-grandchildren’s games or events to support them in whatever they chose to do. Big family get togethers and reunions were her favorite times and friends became common invitees to grow the family even bigger. Church and God were fundamental to her values and she lived her life by the Golden Rule. She always did the right thing, she loved unconditionally and she spread kindness everywhere she went. “Make each day special” and “Always stay humble and kind” were her beliefs and she lived those devotedly until the end. She is now reunited with her lifelong love and partner, Lew, and the Lord, our Savior.
She is the wind beneath our wings.
JoAnn was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, Lew Eklund, her Father and Mother, Theo Huus and Emma Larson, her brothers Ervin and Lawrence Huus, her sister Shirley Forsman and daughter Candice Eklund Kley. She is survived by her sister Grace Wurtz of Plaza, ND, her brother Kenny Huus of Bismarck, ND, her son Lance Eklund (Joanne) of Reno, NV, daughters Sheri Eklund-Brown (Randy) of Elko, NV and Val Ray (Tom) of Carlin, NV; Grandchildren Canesa Passey (Dave) of Cedar Hills, UT, Justin Kley (Sage) of Elko, NV, Lindsey Leonis (Joe) of Reno, NV, Kyle Eklund of Reno, NV, Dallas Johnson (Grace) of Seattle, WA, Sammi Johnson of Phoenix, AZ, Brock Simpson (Ami) of Elko, NV, Tara Gonzalez (Juan) of Elko, NV, and Rex Simpson (Alyssa) of Elko, NV; Great-grandchildren Kenzee (Queston), Kambree, Brynlee, Jonah, Candice, Keston, Jamison, Julianna, Carmen, Tristen, Tierra, Hailee (Millie), Adara (Randy), Cade, Maddox and Kylo; and Great-great grandchildren Hudson, Aria and Avery.
Please join us for graveside services Friday, August 14, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. at the Carlin Cemetery, 13th & Fir Street, Carlin, NV. A reception to follow at the Lew & Jo Eklund/Jon Gift Community Center “Gathering Place” at 372 8th Street, Carlin, NV. Celebration of Life to be announced and held at a later date due to the COVID pandemic.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Carlin Open Door Senior Center, 320 Chestnut Street, P.O. Box 123, Carlin, NV, 89822; the Carlin Fire Department, 121 Hamilton Street, Carlin, NV, 89822; Lew & Jo Eklund/Jon Gift Community Center, P.O. Box 1515, Carlin, NV 89822, or the charity of your choice.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of JoAnn A. Eklund, please visit our floral store.