Well done, good and faithful servant! – Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
On Dec. 29, 2019, God's faithful servant, Joan Marie Oftebro Bakken, was called home to bask in the glow of heaven's delight. Joan was born in Williston, North Dakota, on Aug. 27, 1938. She and her parents, Ken and Millie, moved to Northern California’s fruitful Salinas Valley in the early 1950s. There, she, along with her parents, newly born brother, Ron, and her grandparents, developed a strong bond for family.
Around this time, Salinas was forging a path of religious renewal, and it was there that the family helped establish Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. The faith-walk that the family shared was only surpassed by God's undying love for the family.
Joan graduated from Salinas High School in 1956 and attended Hartnell College before heading off to Pacific Lutheran College (now Pacific Lutheran University) in Tacoma, Washington. There she developed a skill for teaching. She graduated with her teaching degree in 1960.
She met and married Army Bronze Star recipient Orley Bakken on Feb. 11, 1962. They settled in Concord, then, Milpitas, California, where they created their own family. Son Stephen was born in 1963; daughter Cheryl in 1965, and son David in 1967.
The faithful servant mentality that shaped Joan’s life led the young family to become members of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in San Jose, California. There, Joan and Orley became near-instant leaders of the church. Over the years, between the two of them, there may have been only a handful of years where one of them wasn’t the church president or council leader. Joan's leadership led to many significant events in Gloria Dei's history, including the development of a new sanctuary, a more approachable leadership structure, Sunday School teaching curricula, Small Groups, and restoration of the church's fellowship hall, Luther Hall. Until she fell ill in January 2017, Joan was instrumental in establishing a bond with pastors and parishioners alike.
Over the years, Joan and Orley had many great friendships, mainly developed through Gloria Dei's membership. In the early years, the bond between the Lohres and Bakkens was shaped with the power of God. In the mid-80s, they, along with three other couples -- Rinersons, Rositanos, and Kirkpatricks -- made their own wine from grapes from the Rositano’s vineyard.
While Joan taught in the early 1960s, it wasn’t until her opportunity came to hone her teaching skills in 1977 at Valley Christian Schools in Dublin, California. She taught at Valley Christian until her retirement in the early 2000s. There she continued her path based on faith and servanthood.
After her retirement, she stayed true to God's plan became a good shepherd of glory to her husband, Orley, when he became ill in the early 2000s. She continued to share her gift of education through church small groups and leadership in the church council. Her strength in God’s unquenching fire of truth and love maintained her through the years of matriarchal stature in the family once her parents both passed. Joan had a way of bringing family together. Her home in San Jose was the center point of all things holiday and birthday-related events.
Joan passed peacefully on Dec. 29, 2019, with her son Stephen at her side, after a three-year battle with stroke and dementia-related trauma.
Joan is survived by her son Stephen, his wife, Kari (Lohre), and their children, Kirk, Kenny Jens, and Kristian Bakken. She is also survived by her daughter Cheryl (Rositano), and her son Christopher and his wife, Maddi (Boyer), and their daughter Megan.
She is also survived by her youngest son, David, his wife, Rosemarie (Estioko), their daughter Kristina, and their son Rikky and his wife, Bailey (McNab).
Lastly, she is survived by her brother, Ronald, his wife, Dale (Mapp), and their three children and families, along with innumerable cousins.
Joan, you are now in the glorious presence of God, our Father, and Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Well done, good and faithful servant!
Services will be held at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 121 S. White Road, San Jose, on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 12:15 p.m. In lieu of gifts, donations in her honor may be made to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, with a designation to the Forward in Faith Campaign, which funds the Luther Hall renovation.