Cover photo for Janis Lee Schmidt (Johnson)'s Obituary
Janis Lee Schmidt (Johnson) Profile Photo

Janis Lee Schmidt (Johnson)

February 13, 1946 — April 5, 2019

Janis Lee Schmidt (Johnson)

Janis Lee (Johnson) Schmidt, 73 of Warwick formerly of Donnybrook, ND passed away on Friday, April 5, 2019 at her home.

Funeral Services for Janis will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Peace Lutheran Church, Burlington, ND with Reverend Emily Nesdahl officiating.  Friends may call at the church one hour prior to the funeral service on Saturday. 

She was born February 13, 1946, the third of seven children to Bernice (Scheltens) and Vernie Johnson Jr. in Kenmare, ND. She was raised on the family farm and graduated valedictorian from Donnybrook High School with the class of 1964. Janis attended Minot State Teacher’s College, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in English in 1968.

In 1969, while living in Minot, Janis married Frederick Schmidt of Beulah and had two sons, Damon and Jason. She taught grade school in Rolla for one year and high school in Granville for a year where she directed the school play. In 1971 Janis and her family moved to Williston and her lifelong passion for art evolved into her career. Janis spent summers painting scenes from nature and landscapes around North Dakota including the Badlands and spent winters painting mostly still lifes and portraits.

Her favorite medium was oil yet she enjoyed experimenting with new techniques and color combinations. Early recognition of her art skills included second place at the 1974 and 1975 North Dakota State Fairs, The Governor Selection Award and having a landscape displayed at the State Capital for several years. She received many awards and was in many shows including numerous national juried art shows, often winning best of show. Several Midwestern galleries have shown and sold her art throughout the World into private and public collections. Galleries rented out her art out to banks and other businesses for display and purchase, typically for three months when they would exchange for new art. Offices in Washington DC requested smaller seven inch original paintings.

In 1979, Janis and her family relocated to Minot. Later that year, she began attending the Rocky Mountain School of Art in Denver, Colorado. She divorced in 1980 and made Colorado her home where she could continue to learn and expand her art career. Her “Rocks on Water” series which won many awards was inspired by the rivers running in the Rocky Mountains.

In Colorado, Janis became more involved in activist movements for causes for which she was passionate, such as animal cruelty, nature, peace and saving the Earth. She made many friends across the country many of which she would remain in contact throughout her life. She also volunteered at homeless shelters often opening her home to those in need while at the same time, teaching her children to volunteer and help others.

In 1986 she attended Metropolitan State College in Denver for teacher certification training. From 1986 to 1987 she attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins then transferred to the University of Boulder where she graduated in 1990 with a Master of Fine Arts in Art. After graduation she resided in the foothills near Salida, Colorado where she first began to live off the land and pursue her freedom.

In 1991 she moved to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to accept a job teaching at Little Wound High School in Kyle. She also became involved with the Lakotas and met Leroy Waters who became her constant companion. Janis built two log cabins while there, which is significant since she was single, 50 and didn’t have a real income but managed with art sales and part-time teaching at Oglala Lakota College. She enjoyed having a large garden and canned over 100 quarts of vegetables, pickles, jams, jellies and soups. In 1995 she started an Art-Camp where she combined lessons in humanity, nature, gardening with oil painting, watercolor and drawing. She was very proud of her “non-traditional” art camp and its representation of her self-sufficiency. In 2005, she co-founded the Lakota Wawokiya Civil Rights Organization which fought for the civil rights of countless people, especially native Americans. Although she didn’t have formal legal training, working with prominent attorney Barry Bachrach she prepared, filed and presented many cases, including to the Supreme Court of North Dakota and the United States. She also enjoyed writing letters to the editor on topics which she felt “brought out the truth and exposed lies”, which was really her life motto.

In 2006, Janis returned to North Dakota to accept a position teaching art at the High School in Warwick. In 2007 she retired from teaching and continued her art, gardening and pursuit of civil defense cases.

Janis also had a passion for music which she attributes to her father’s love and encouragement to her and her siblings. She played the piano and clarinet. If not performing herself she loved to listen to all types of music and found it to be a source of inspiration and comfort.

Janis is survived by her loving family. Her son Jason Everett Schmidt, Champlin, MN; grandsons Dustin Tyler and Matthew Damon Schmidt; her grandchildren’s mother Colette Hunter-Flores; the father of her sons Fred Schmidt, Beulah, ND; siblings Carolyn (Dale) Johnson Graff, Carpio, ND, Gail (Robert) Johnson Huff, Donnybrook, ND, Marshall (Barbara) Johnson, Donnybrook, Roger (Mary) Johnson also of Donnybrook and Ginger Johnson, Fargo, ND; brother-in-law Kenneth Hoffert, Savage, MN; 20 nieces and nephews and 34 great nieces and great nephews.

She was welcomed to her heavenly home by her son Damon Earl Schmidt who died in August of 1987, her parents and sister Ardyce Hoffert, her children’s grandparents William Frederick Schmidt and Clara Margaret (Hartwig) Schmidt.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Janis Lee Schmidt (Johnson), please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Peace Lutheran Church-Burlington

521 North Davis Street, Burlington, ND 58722

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