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95-year-old grand marshal shares the secret to his longevity

More than 40 friends and family celebrated Emil Janssen’s 95th birthday on Saturday, June 8 at the Pahrump Senior Center.

Janssen, a co-founder of Pahrump Family Mortuary, will serve as grand marshal for this year’s Fourth of July parade in Pahrump, and says the secret to his longevity is simple: “God hadn’t called me yet.”

Born in Montevideo, Minnesota, in 1929, Janssen served 2-1/2 years in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany from 1946 to 1949, where he met and married his first wife, Inge, until her death in 1998.

By then, Janssen had retired, after working at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for 21 years, and moved his family to Pahrump in 1995.

That’s where he met his second wife Mildred, and where they founded Pahrump Family Mortuary.

“We worked hard, I bought the land out there in 1999, and I developed it [doing] most of the work in my 70s,” Janssen said.

He credits his strong work ethic and Midwest values to his mother.

“When I was about 10 years old, we lived on a farm and everybody else was busy,” he recalled. “[My mother] said, ‘Why don’t you get going and clean the barn.’ I said, ‘Ah, ma, that’s a dirty job.’”

She got real serious and told him, “Emil, I want you to listen to me now. You go out there and do that job. You thank God every minute you’re doing it, and you think of all the crippled people that can’t.”

That stuck with him all his life, he said.

“You know, if you have a difficult job, do the job and thank God you’re able to do it,” he added. “She would tell me, ‘You don’t have to have money to have principles.’”

Janssen has always been generous and compassionate, oftentimes donating plots or funeral services to those who couldn’t afford it.

“My creed is faith, hope and love,” he said. “Faith in God, hope for the future, and love my family, my country and my job. God has blessed me.”

Janssen’s two daughters, Janet Janssen and Carmen Murzyn organized the celebration for their father, which featured Johnny V, an Elvis impersonator, who performed and acted as DJ, a three-course dinner, and a cake made by Janssen’s friend and Holiday Task Force member Linda Wright with 95 candles.

John Clausen is a freelance journalist in Pahrump.

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