October 26, 2023
BESSEMER, Mich. - Jo Benakis, 82, died peacefully on Oct. 4, 2023, in the arms of her loved ones.
She had the best last day ever, hosting a special gathering of friends and horses at her and Bob's beloved farm (Barber Road Stables) in Bessemer.
JoAnn Charlotte Luoma was born in April 1941 in Ironwood, to Richard and Helen Luoma, along with her sister Carol.
Jo was always a very active, determined person, as she participated in everything possible in school. She jumped in and fully lived her life. She skied, rode horses, danced, ran, cheered, swam, and adventured her way through her childhood in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She had a petite body and a gigantic spirit.
Jo left her small town, and headed to the big city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, at age 18. She eventually worked as a legal secretary, and met and fell for Gus Benakis. They married, had two daughters, Elena and Stephanie, and settled in Edina, Minnesota.
Jo got very involved in everything that interested her or her family. She volunteered with WAMSO for the Minnesota Orchestra for decades. Always busy with the schools, she showed up and helped regularly. The Braemar Figure Skating Club received years of her meticulous attention to detail, as did the groups at St Mary's Greek Orthodox Church, Braemar Golf and Olympic Hills.
Jo absolutely adored her neighbors and together they created a magical childhood for all of us on Sally Lane. Jo was very dedicated to her daughters, her friends, and her family. She traveled the world and was thrilled to see everything, everywhere.
Jo always loved to be beautifully dressed; she loved fashion, music, sports, cooking, home decor, people, animals, and entertaining. Jo was really fun to be around. She had a home with doors open to all. She was always ready for anything, especially with a chilled glass of Chardonnay. Jo loved very deeply, and she was absolutely hilarious. Jo reunited with her childhood sweetheart Bob Johnson in 2005, and from the moment they reconnected they were never again apart. "My first and my last" she'd often say. She returned to the place where she came from, with the man she had loved as a girl, and together they created a beautiful farm life with animals, horses, lovely friends, and fields of joy.
Bob passed away in February 2023, and we know that Jo was happy to wait only months to be reunited with him once again. Jo's daughter Elena passed away in 2020, and we feel peace knowing that they too are reunited.
Special thanks to the Anderson family - Dan, Theresa, Vanessa, Mitchell, Parker, and Paisleigh for loving and caring for Bob and Jo and their horses, thus extending their beautiful life together. Also, special thanks to Jake Condon for your very generous and loving care of your Nana.
Jo will be greatly missed by her five grandsons, Jake and Ben Condon, and Roenigk, Carson and Hudson Straub; by her Benakis, Condon, and Luoma/Tregembo families; her beloved pets; and her many dear friends. She will be especially missed by John and Stephanie Condon, who have lovingly dedicated themselves to her care.
There will be a memorial in June 2024, in Bessemer.
Any donations can be made to the Barber Road Stables Memorial Fund, which has been established to provide support and recognition to equestrians, for their love of horses and the community that surrounds them. Send to US Magnetix (c/o Barber Road Stables) 7140 Madison Ave W., Golden Valley, MN 55427.
Please share online condolences and photos at SunriseFuneralHomeandCemetery.com.