In Remembrance

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John N Viken

March 22, 1933 - December 5, 2018

U.S. Veteran

A celebration of John’s life will all be held in the Twin Cities area on Thursday January 4th, 2019 at 3 PM at Unity Christ Church in Golden Valley, MN.

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John Norman Viken, 85, of Ely, Minnesota passed away on Wednesday, December 5th in the loving arms of his family at the Minnesota Veteran’s Home in Silver Bay, MN after a long goodbye due to Alzheimer’s disease.

John was born Norman John Viken Jr. on March 22nd, 1933 in St. Paul to Norman and Loraine Viken. He was a protective big brother to his two younger sisters Cindy and Sandra. John enjoyed hanging out with “neighborhood gang” of lifelong friends. He started following in his father’s professional photography footsteps as the photographer for the school newspaper and yearbook, graduating in 1951 from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, MN.

John graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1953 with an associate’s degree before joining the United States Army. He served his country in a guided missile brigade during the cold war and was stationed in Germany for the majority of his service. Afterwards, he attended Macalester College and graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.

John and Judy Sherwood were united in Marriage on December 30, 1961 in Fargo, ND. They settled in New Hope, MN a suburb of Minneapolis, where they raised their two sons Eric and Kevin.

John worked for IBM as a salesman and a stockbroker for Reynolds & Co. before finding his true passion as an entrepreneur. He first opened a small photo store in downtown St. Paul, MN before starting up Photo Fast, a high quality photo-finishing lab in Golden Valley, MN. His other business ventures were Passport Pictures, Photo First (hospital baby pictures), portrait photography, Wrap-it Up (packaging and shipping store). He finished out his career managing the Summit Equipment photo equipment brokering company.

John was always interested in and an early adopter of technology as evidenced by being ahead of the curve on computers, early cellular car bag phones, hybrid and electric cars.

John enjoyed spending time with his family at the lake, on road trips, car camping, ski trips, and taking his son’s on fishing trips. He was a Vikings fan.

Construction was one of John’s passions! He reveled in generating ideas and following them through to fruition. He completed endless projects on his businesses, and on the family home in New Hope. He especially enjoyed building and working on their retirement home, and completed this project with the help of skilled Ely contractors and his sons. He delighted in observing, photographing and discussing construction projects. He regaled those around him with his infectious sense of humor. He loved music and was a wonderful dancer.

In 1998 John retired and moved full time to Ely, joining Judy, who had retired two years earlier. John volunteered and contributed to the establishment of the North American Bear Center. He and Judy enjoyed the active Ely community and its close connection to the outdoors and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. John drove into town daily to buy the newspaper, survey the goings-on, do some shopping, and ultimately stop by his favorite community gathering spot, The Front Porch coffee shop. There he loved to chat with fellow patrons and read the paper. Copious amounts of coffee and food were enjoyed by John over the years at the Front Porch.

John is survived by his wife of 56 years, Judy; his sons Eric Viken (Elizabeth Raduege) of Duluth, MN and Kevin (Julie) of Roseville, MN; Grandson Jonathan Viken of Duluth, MN; Sisters Cindy (Quentin) Brinkworth and Sandra (Darlys) Every, and many nieces, nephews, and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Norman John Viken Sr. and Loraine (Zimbrick) Viken.

John’s family would like to give a heart-felt thank you to all the compassionate caregivers working at the Minnesota Veteran’s Home in Silver Bay, MN. Their highly skilled, attentive, and loving care for John and all the other veterans living there was a great source of comfort to us.

The family would also like to thank David Wiley of Ely for the care he provided John. He was tremendous source of support for Judy as she continued to care for John at home as long as possible.

The family would also like to thank Northwoods Partners, Lisa Portman, and the entire Ely community for their support of John and Judy, for helping to make Ely more Alzheimer’s and Dementia friendly.

A celebration of John’s life will be held at the Front Porch Coffee & Tea Co. in Ely, MN on Saturday, December 15th, 2018 at 4:00 PM. The Front Porch was a great source of inspiration and fellowship for John. A tremendous thank you to Doug and Nancy who treated him like family.

A celebration of John’s life will all be held in the Twin Cities area on Thursday January 4th, 2019 at 3 PM at Unity Christ Church in Golden Valley, MN.

Memorials may be made to one of the following organizations:

  • Alzheimer’s Association (
  • Northwoods Partners in Ely, MN (
  • The Spiritwood Foundation in Ely, MN (