ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin




Cancer Circus


   09 08 1956


The largest crowd in the history of the annual Cancer Benefit Circus swarmed over the grounds of the Johannsen residence Saturday afternoon to enjoy the wide diversity of cleverly contrived games, rides and shows all created and produced by neighborhood children as their contribution to the American Cancer Society. There were amusements for every age customer from a red velvet swing large enough to accommodate three babies at a time to a cleverly arranged miniature golf and croquet course for the more sedate grandparents.


Johannsen Flower Shop & Greenhouse


Margaret Johannsen

1912 - 2007


Margaret "Peg" Johannsen, 94, longtime Watertown, Wis., resident, died Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007, in Mercer Island, Wash.


Peg was born July 22, 1912, in Champaign, Ill., spending much of her childhood in Joliet, Ill., with extended visits to relatives in California and Ohio. Her studies at Ohio State University were cut short by the Great Depression. She started helping Charles Johannsen in his flower shop, and married him in 1933. Peg and family moved to Watertown in 1945, having bought the old Loeffler & Behnke Greenhouses on Lounsbury and North Second streets. Because of the housing shortage at the end of World War II, the entire family, including Peg's parents, Roy and Grace Fargo, lived for a while in the small house attached to the greenhouse, converting some of the greenhouse workrooms into extra bedrooms.


Peg worked in the greenhouse every year during the busy spring season. An entire generation of Watertownians bought their tomato plants, geraniums and petunias from her. The four Johannsen children all attended Watertown schools and helped out in the greenhouse.


In the early 1950s, Peg's husband, Chuck, was president of the Watertown City Council and chairman of the centennial committee, so Peg was very active in civic affairs. They were affiliated with Dance Club, Elks Club and Rotary Club, and were members of Watertown Country Club, where Peg served a term as social chairman. She was a chief organizer and hostess of the Cancer Circuses, which raised money for the American Cancer Society. She taught Sunday school at the Congregational church and was a Douglas School Cub Scout den mother. In the 1960s, Peg was a guide at the Octagon House. During the Civil Rights Movement, she marched for open housing in Milwaukee, Wis., with Father Groppi. She campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in 1968, a campaign that brought the actor Paul Newman to the Watertown airport for a brief stop. Her final years in Watertown were spent helping the Mexican migrant workers who lived in camps nearby.


Peg left Watertown in 1969, moving to Berkeley, Calif., at the height of student unrest, where she had taken a job as housemother at the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority on the Berkeley campus. From Berkeley, she moved to Seattle, taking a housemother position on the University of Washington campus. She retired to the Seattle suburb of Mercer Island, home to some of her children and grandchildren, where she lived an active and interesting life for over three decades.


Peg is survived by four children, Jane Schumann Ditzier and June (James) Lindsey of Mercer Island, Virginia (Jack Olson) Willard of   Hillsboro, Ore., and Charles (Jamie) Johannsen III of Rockford, Ill., as well as 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held March 26 at the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church.