Dr. John Owen Annexstad, 88, of Walker, Minn., was received to our Lord Tuesday, June 9, 2020. He is survived by his wife Judith.
John was born on the Annexstad family homestead in Norseland, Minn on Jan. 10, 1932. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in physics and mathematics in 1956 after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War.
His Antarctic career began in 1957 working for the U.S. Coast and Geodedic Survey in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year as part of Operation Deep Freeze and continued through his time in Fairbanks, Alaska. John notably tended the seismograph there during the 1964 “Good Friday” earthquake.
In 1968 he joined the Apollo Space Program in Houston, Texas, as the associate curator for lunar samples (moon rocks). While employed with the Johnson Space Center he led the creation of the Antarctic Meteorite Program to continue NASA’s research of planetary materials. Under his supervision this program discovered numerous meteorites in Antarctica, now all in the NASA collection. Annexstad Peak was mapped by the U.S Geological Survey and named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names for John Annexstad, geomagnetician and Station Seismologist at Byrd Station.
In 1981 John was recognized with a Distinguished Alumni Citation from Gustavus Adolphus for his Government Service. During his explorations in Antarctica, he worked on and was awarded his PhD in Glaciology from the Johannes Gutenberg Universitat, Mainz, Germany, in 1983.
Upon retirement from NASA in 1985, he returned to northern Minnesota to follow his passion of educating young minds as a Professor of Geology at Bemidji State University; he also served as the Director of the Space Studies Program and Director of the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium. He retired from BSU in 2000. His six decades of Antarctic work earned him Emeritus status with the famed Explorers Club in 2016. He remained in his beloved northern Minnesota until his passing.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother Tom; and first wife Clara Johanna (née Almen). He is survived by their children, Kristine (Tommy) Harding, Thomas Annexstad and Britta (Gary) Haff.
John’s legacy of grandchildren are Nick and Clare; Megan, Garrett, and Ryan; Megan and John.
In 1998 John married Judith and will forever be remembered as loving stepdad to Judith’s children: Laurie Chapman (Steffan Johnson), Holly (Mitch) Kenitzer, and Jennifer (John) Cole. He was also known as Grandpa to Allegra, Lincoln, Nicholas, and William. John is also survived by his sister, Mary Francis, and two nephews, Jens and Nick.
To all who know and love him, “He may be some time.” But we will all see him in due time.
Guestbook at www.OlsonSchwartzFuneralHome.com
The Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Bemidji, Minn., is handling arrangements.