Magazine helps couple find true love in Alaska

Posted: Monday, February 14, 2000

Some couples meet in a bar, others over the Internet, but one Soldotna couple found love through a magazine.

Mike and Jan Johnson met and are happily married because of "Alaska Men" magazine.

"Alaska Men" is a magazine for women, featuring single men and their photos, who are looking for female companionship.

Mike was in the May 1991 edition of the magazine.

"I didn't expect anything," Mike said, "What did I have to loose?"

He was described in the feature as having a positive outlook on life and an easy-going nature. At the end of his story, there was an address for interested females to write.

Jan, president of the Metro Atlanta Emergency Nurse Association, had a longtime dream of moving to Alaska. She had ordered a subscription to Alaska Men, but she felt silly when it came, she said, so she threw out the first four issues she received.

Yet after watching successful couples who met through magazines on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and dreaming she was an elderly woman who regretted never having visited Alaska, she decided to give the state a try.

She flipped through the May 1991 edition, landing on page 30 -- Mike's page. After reading about Mike, she decided he seemed the ideal friend with whom to explore Alaska.

Jan wrote Mike a letter and received a reply in less than three weeks, she said.

"She was unique," Mike said.

Her adventurous nature and positive outlook made her letter stand out from the four hundred others, he said.

Mike wrote in his letter that he had moved to Alaska from southern California and worked as a men's hairstylist. His wife had died of pancreatic cancer in 1987, and since her death, he found it hard to meet women. One of Mike's clients had met his wife through the magazine and convinced Mike to try it.

Many letters crossed the country as he and Jan gradually got to know each other.

Jan, too, had been married, but her marriage ended after three years after she realized belittlement and low self-esteem were not the components of a happy marriage.

After many long letters and phone calls, both decided it was time to meet face to face.

In August of 1991, Jan came to Alaska for a three-week vacation. Mike greeted her in Anchorage International Airport with one red rose.

"He made me weak in the knees when I first saw him," Jan said.

"I thought she was beautiful," Mike said. "We hit it off the moment we saw each other."

He then took her to his house. Waiting was a crackling fire and 11 more red roses.

The couple explored as much of the state as possible, all the while realizing the deep feelings they had for each other.

"I hit the mother load," Jan said.

While in Alaska, Jan interviewed for Lifeguard Alaska, an air ambulance team. She was offered a position as a flight nurse -- which she took.

In October of 1991, she moved to Alaska. Her new job took her all over the state and occasionally to Siberia to pick up Russian residents in need of medical help.

Her two dogs, Buddy and Scooter, joined them a few months later. Mike adopted them, making his new family complete.

On March 27, 1992, the couple celebrated the anniversary of Jan's first letter. At dinner, Jan gave Mike a scrapbook of the letters and cards the two had exchanged. Mike also had a gift, his consisting of a three-quarter carat loose diamond; he asked Jan to marry him.

The couple married that July in a chapel in the pine woods, not far from Anchorage.

"We are really soul partners," Jan said.

In June of 1993, Jan left her flight nursing job and took the position as manager of the emergency department at Central Peninsula General Hospital. Mike also currently works at the hospital, in the maintenance department.

"Life is absolutely wonderful," Jan said, "I truly became alive when I came to Alaska."

"I am very happy," Mike said. "I got very lucky."

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