Frank Alvin Janzen

World traveler Frank Alvin Janzen, 79, took his final journey on February 16, 2023, departing from Olathe, Kansas. He was born in Chanute, Kansas to Herman Alvin Janzen and Frances Fussman Janzen (née Helen Frances Fussman) on April 4, 1943. His family also lived in Humboldt and Dodge City.

As a child he lived with his mother, father (who was a sanitation engineer), and siblings in both Brazil (1947) and Vietnam (1956-57). He graduated from Washington High School in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1961 and from the University of Kansas in 1968. He received a Master’s Degree from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, in 1995 and a Master’s Degree in Education/TESL from the University of Kansas in 2004. Frank was a self-described “travel artist.” He spent a collective 25-plus years living, working and traveling outside the United States, visiting more than 50 countries along the way — meditating on a hillside in India, teaching English in colleges in Oman and Aden, building a pharmacy with the Peace Corps in a Senegalese village. He had a position with USAID in Mali right after the Peace Corps and later worked in Somalia and then in Guinea.

It was in the Army, which he joined in 1962, where Frank discovered his aptitude for languages and eventually became fluent in Polish, German, Russian, Arabic and Swahili. At the U.S. Army Language School in Monterey, California, Janzen studied Polish six hours a day, five days a week for an entire year. And then, just like that, he was off — to Germany, where he was stationed from 1963 to 1965, then after discharge to Poland, where he studied in a foreign-exchange program through the University of Kansas. During what he called his hippie trip, Frank hitchhiked across Europe and Asia, journeyed from Venice to New Delhi in a Volkswagen bus driven by a couple of Canadians he’d met along the way, and did volunteer work with the United Nations and the Peace Corps in Africa. Frank never stayed in one place too long but always returned to Lawrence which he considered home. He didn’t own a car until he was 50 but had a driver’s license. When in Lawrence, Frank was involved in community affairs and his efforts led to a plaque honoring the legendary Lawrence pencil salesman Leo Beuerman that now stands at the corner of Eighth and Massachusetts Streets.

His older sister Sue Moffat of Omaha, Nebraska, preceded him in death. Survivors include brother Bill Janzen of Roseville, California, sisters Sarah Marshall of Boulder Creek, California and Heidi Janzen of Carlsbad, California, along with many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

A visitation will be held on Friday, February 24 from 1 to 3 pm at the McGilley & Frye Funeral Home, 105 E. Loula Street, Olathe, Kansas. A graveside service with Military Honors will be held at 2 pm in St. Joseph Cemetery 1100th Street Humboldt. A “Celebration of Life” will be held in the spring in Lawrence.

Memorials may be sent to the Peace Corps Foundation 3601 Connecticut Avenue NW #504 Washington DC 20008


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