Northcrest Community

Johanna Canfield

Johanna Canfield

Johanna Backes Canfield died peacefully on May 27, 2019, at the age of 93.

She was born in Bergen op Zoom in the Netherlands on April 23, 1926. After experiencing the hardships of World War II and liberation by the Allied armies in 1944, she studied at the University of Leiden to become a medical technologist and subsequently worked in a large hospital in Rotterdam. In 1951 she joined an AFSC (American Friends Service Committee) summer project, joining young people from many nations who came together to help war victims. As part of this first project she helped build houses for refugees in southern Germany. The next year she was invited by AFSC to participate in a project with American students, providing assistance to the Sioux Indian reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Loving the work the AFSC did, she subsequently accepted an offer to go to a very small, poor village in Mexico, in the mountains of the state of Vera Cruz. 

One of the other participants in the Vera Cruz group was a young man from Essex, Connecticut named Earl Canfield, who would later become her husband. In 1953, after two more projects, one in Indianapolis and another in Donato Guerra, Mexico, she returned to the Netherlands and resumed her work as a medical technologist in Rotterdam. Having learned to love America, she returned to work as a medical technologist on Cape Cod and later in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

Earl and Johanna were married in Berwyn, Pennsylvania on Oct 24, 1959. After living together for 40 years in Springfield, Virginia, they moved to Ames, Iowa in 2008. Johanna is survived by her husband, Earl, and their two sons, Paul and John.

Johanna specifically wished to include that she loved living in Ames.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, June 3, at 10 AM in the Green Room at Northcrest Community. All are welcome to attend. Donations may be made in her memory to the American Friends Service Committee, whose good work shaped the course of her life, or to the Northcrest Community Foundation.

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