Jo Ann Brzoznowski

Jo Ann Brzoznowski

Jo Ann Brzoznowski, 76, of International Falls, Minn., passed away Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, at her home.

Jo Ann was born in Bemidji, Minn., on Sept. 19, 1943. She lived in Guthrie and attended school in Bemidji through the eighth grade. Her family then moved to Ray, Minn., and she attended Falls High School, graduating in 1961.

Jo Ann then moved to International Falls, Minn., and obtained a job at the Falls Creamery. During this time she met her first husband, Bloyd Breneman, and moved back to Ray and started a family. Dean was born in 1965, Julie in 1967 and Rebecca in 1970.

She was a master farm wife and mother, conquering all the tasks necessary to keep an efficient dairy farm running and a happy, well cared for family.

She was a master gardener, yard keeper, tree planter, cook, canner, seamstress and as one of the hired farm boys recently stated, “She sure could out-run a rain cloud with a baler and wagon.”

She was also an expert at any craft imaginable. Jo Ann loved to draw, paint, scrapbook, sew and would attempt any “do it yourself” project she could find. She was always successful at making it look better than what the instructions had shown her, as she never followed instructions anyway.

Once the children were a bit older, Jo Ann went to work at Hay’s General Store where she and her sister Ethel Mae were well known for their antics and Jo Ann would become known as one of the best meat cutters in the absence of Jim Hay, who was, of course, the best.

Jo Ann’s marriage to Bloyd ended but the relationship and parenting obligations stayed strong throughout the remainder of her life.

She then started working at United Health Care in International Falls where she created many new friendships and was regarded as a someone who always put a smile on her co-workers faces. She then moved to Lake Kabetogama where she worked for her dear friends, Jim and Marlene Tomczak, at the Gateway Store, where she was also known for her joking around and always making people smile. She was an exceptional employee and considered to have done a great job at training in the Harts as new owners. Phil Hart would go on to say, “She was my boss for many years and taught us so much.”

It is here where she reconnected with a dear friend, Julian Brzoznowski, and they married in September of 1995. She then moved to the Brzoznowski Farm with her new husband and revisited the farm life. Here she was known for her beautiful flower beds and her meticulous upkeep of the yard along with her fierce protection against any varmint that dare try and mess with her flowers.

With her marriage to Julian, her family expanded to a total of six amazing children adding Mary, Anne and Little Julien whom she adored from day one, along with Julian’s two sisters, Rosie and Frances, whom she held very dear in her heart.

Some of Jo Ann’s proudest and most enjoyable moments began in 1990 with the birth of her first grandchild through 2019 with the birth of her final great-grandchild, leaving her with 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. She so cherished each and every one of them and any time she was able to spend with them.

Julian and Jo Ann would continue to live on the farm until 2017 when they sold it and moved “south” to Orr, Minn. It is here that she would lose her dear husband Julian in December 2018. Jo Ann then moved to International Falls to live with her daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Shad to spend the rest of her days surrounded by all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that she so adored.

Jo Ann was preceded in death by her parents, Neil and Alberta DeBoer; her beloved husband, Julian; brother, William DeBoer, Army (Vietnam); sister and brother-in-law, Ethel Mae and Dale Himes; Breneman/Streiff infant twin granddaughters; and her special dog, “Morgan.”

Jo Ann is survived by her son, Dean Breneman of International Falls; daughters, Julie (Russell) Helgeson of Ray and Rebecca (Shad) Murray of International Falls; step-daughters, Mary (Bob) Servis of International Falls and Anne (Jim) Sather of Orr; step-son, Julien Brzoznowski Jr. of Illinois; grandchildren — Cody Erickson of Mankato, Minn., Dustin Helgeson (Emily Werner) of International Falls, Wyatt (Talitha) Helgeson of Duluth, Minn., Sabrina Murray (Damien Allan) of International Falls, Adam Salmi of Rochester, Minn., Allan (Marie) Salmi of Grant, Minn., April (Michael) Wilcox of Angora, Minn., Ryan Servis of Rochester, Christina (Scott) Fuller of East Bethel, Minn., and Thomas T.J. Sather of Avon, Minn.; great-grandchildren — Braden Sheridan and Haven Westover; Able, Anastasia and Avaliese Fuller; Elizabeth and Jack Udovich; Zoey, Shay, Annabelle and Charlie Wilcox; and Julian Salmi-Miller; brother-in-law, Clemens Jr. (Melba) Brzoznowski; sisters-in-law, Roseland (Paul) Ehrenberg and Frances Brzoznowski; and many special nieces, nephews, and lifelong friends and extended family.

A memorial service will be conducted at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at Northwoods Bible Church, Ray.

Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church.

To leave an online condolence visit

Mlaker Funeral Home, Cook, Minn., is in charge of arrangements.

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