Ogden • A northern Utah artist who paints portraits of Mormon missionaries who died while serving and sends them to the deceased’s parents is now helping families all over the world get closure.
JR Johansen painted 20 portraits in October. Now, with the help of others, he has found more missionaries in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to paint and the portraits have been delivered to other countries, the Standard-Examiner reported.
“It has been a delightful project,” Johansen said. “I love making people happy, and this is a happy thing.”
The 73-year-old’s missionary portraits now are being hand-delivered thanks to former Liberty residents LaMar and Tami Creamer.
The Creamers’ son, Nic Creamer, is a pilot for SkyWest Airlines and has helped his parents arrange to deliver the portraits through privileges he has with the airlines.
The first one delivered was a portrait of Elder Aaron Patiole, which he took to Australia, LaMar Creamer said.
“When we got there, the look on the face of the family members and the closure it seemed to bring, made it all worthwhile,” LaMar Creamer said. “One brother in particular just spent an extended amount of time looking at the picture.”
Johansen’s son, Kyle, has joined his effort by painting two missionaries in the collection.
The elder Johansen is now receiving help from fellow Huntsville artist Steve Songer, who is purchasing some of portrait frames, especially for those families who can’t afford one.
Families usually will send a letter thanking him for his free gift.
“I can just tell it’s been a marvelous thing for them,” Johansen said. “It’s just sort of a divine blessing.”
With terminal health problems, Johansen said finding his calling has proved to be a blessing for him too. He struggles with damaged lungs, heart and spirit from years of problems associated with his U.S. Army service in the Vietnam War.
There is something to be said about having a purpose in life, he said.