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Joseph "Joe" Jovonovich

February 05, 2021

A private service will be held.

The service will be livestreamed on this page at 2:00 PM Thursday, February 11.


Boulger Funeral Home

Joseph "Joe" Jovonovich

February 05, 2021


The service will be livestreamed below at 2:00 PM Thursday, February 11.

Joe Jovonovich, 76, Fargo, ND passed away surrounded by his family on Friday, February 5, 2021 in Fargo.

He was born on February 20, 1944 in Brainerd, MN to Joseph and Barbara Jovonovich. When he was growing up, his family moved around the state for his dad’s profession as a Game Warden. He graduated from Wadena High School and later graduated from Moorhead State College with a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching for Physical Education and Social Studies.

Joe met the love of his life, Janice (Braith) Jovonovich on her 16th birthday, Christmas day 1962 and married her on July 17, 1965. After he got married and finished college, he and his wife Jan moved to Fulda, MN where Joe started his career as a P.E. and History teacher. He also served there as an assistant football coach, assistant track and field coach, and the head wrestling coach. Joe was the first wrestling coach at Fulda High School to bring the wrestling team to the state playoffs.

He then proceeded to work in various fields of law enforcement. He began his law enforcement career as a Border Patrol agent by going to the Border Patrol Academy in Texas. After the academy, Joe and Jan moved to Chula Vista, CA. During their time there, they had their first daughter, Christine. The next year Joe became a U.S. Customs Inspector. Joe and Jan moved to Calexico, CA. They later moved to Pembina, ND for his next U.S. Customs assignment and had their second daughter, Jacqui. Joe later attended the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Academy in Quantico, VA to become a federal agent. Joe’s first post of duty was in Indianapolis, IN. From there, Joe worked in Chicago. In 1975, Joe got a transfer to Duluth, MN where he and Jan moved their family and had their youngest daughter, Amy. They later moved to Austin, TX and Omaha, NE. In 1985, Joe was promoted to the position of Resident Agent in Charge (regional office) within the Drug Enforcement Administration in Fargo, ND. Joe retired as a highly respected and accomplished agent from federal service after 27 years in 1996.

Shortly after retirement, Joe started a successful private investigation firm. Joe also lived in New York City for six months working for a private firm investigating money wire fraud. For the past several years and up until his illness, Joe was still working, performing background investigations for Four Bears Casino in Newtown, ND. Joe was always engaging his mind and seeking a challenge.

Joe was an avid outdoorsman, with a love of hunting and fishing since he was a young boy. Some of Joe’s best memories were fishing up in Canada with his brothers and father. He looked forward to their traditional Canadian fishing trip each year. Over the years his sister, son-in-law and grandson joined him on this adventure, and have forever stories to tell from their experiences.

Joe also loved spending time at their lake home on Mille Lacs Lake, MN.

Joe was a computer guru, gamer, sharpshooter, card player, off-roading enthusiast and history buff. Joe received several high honors and awards for his firearms performance and was a law enforcement firearms instructor. Joe enjoyed sharing his passion for guns and shooting with his family, friends and anyone he met. He was the first one to help someone site in their gun, reload ammo, and just ‘talk shop’. Joe grew up playing games and especially loved playing cards.

He always had hobbies and interests that he put his heart and soul into and he always left things in better condition than he had found them.

Joe never missed the opportunity to attend a sporting event, music performance, play, baptism or any special event of his children and grandchildren. He was the first one to show up if a family member or friend needed help or support. Family was at the core of Joe’s being and always came first.

Joe is survived by his wife of 55 years, Janice Jovonovich – Fargo; daughters, Christine Jovonovich – Fargo, Jacqui Jovonovich – Fargo, Amy (Kevin) Brandon-Rocklin, CA; seven grandchildren, Leyla Bakir, Lana Bakir, Ameena Jovonovich, Lance Lesmeister, Aiden Brandon, Aubrey Brandon, Ashlyn Brandon; two brothers, Robert (Carrie) Jovonovich, John (Barb) Jovonovich; and two sisters, Jean A Jovonovich Alvillar and Jane (Mike) Popovich.

Joe is preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Barbara Jovonovich.

The entire Jovonovich family would like to express our deepest gratitude to Jean A Jovonovich and Kevin Brandon for their tireless efforts in caring for Joe. Kevin, Joe’s son-in-law, would speak to the medical staff every day and give the rest of the family continual updates of how he was doing. Jean Ann, Joe’s sister, flew from Mississippi to be his medical advocate and stay with him in the hospital. We could not have gotten through this past month without their knowledge and support. We will always be grateful for all they did for Joe.


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31 responses to “Joseph Jovonovich”

  1. Jeff Stickney says:

    I had the honor of working for Joe at the DEA Fargo Resident Office. He was a good boss and I learned a lot from him. Jennifer and I extend our sympathies to Joe’s family.

  2. Joel Gutensohn says:

    I met Joe shortly after joining DEA in the Chicago Field Division in 1971. He was a great guy and an outstanding pistol shot. I remember going to the Chicago PD Range to qualify and Joe hiving the highest score of the day, including all of the PD Officers who shot. We maintained contact and got together when Linda and I moved back to North Dakota in 2002. Joe will be missed by many.

  3. Jeanette Wohlman says:

    I was the Office Assistant working for Joe at the DEA Fargo Resident Office. I have lots of memories and learned a lot. Earl and I send our sincere sympathy to Joe’s family.

  4. Thomas Carey says:

    I worked with Joe in Fargo when I was assigned there as an FBI Agent in the Fargo RA. Good man and super DEA agent.
    Tom Carey
    Fargo FBI RA 1984-86

  5. greg fox says:

    Joe is the finest man I have ever met. I will think of him, miss him and pray for him every day for the rest of my life.

  6. Dalphine Conklin says:

    I’ve worked with Joe for the last 10 years, he taught me a lot. I could always ask Joe questions and always get a answer. I will miss talking to him about the issues of the day. I will miss sharing my deer meat with him when he came to New Town. I will miss him and his hunting and fishing stories. Journey well Joe. Condolences to Jan and his family and friends.

  7. Jean A Jovonovich Alvillar says:

    Joey was my oldest brother. I will always remember the memories, the stories, and the tears and laughter we shared. I know how much he cherished his family and what a central figure he was in the lives of many who knew him. The memories we have of Joe, the reflections of what he taught, the lessons we learned; all contributed to the impact he had this world and those who knew him. Please celebrate his life, for it was full, vibrant, and filled with the love of family and those he helped.


    Uncle Joey will be greatly missed. I will always cherish the late night video game sessions, fishing at the old cabin, the various shooting competitions in the basement in Brainerd, and least I forget his pancakes you could have used as a boat anchor. Rest well uncle Joey.

  9. Roxana Saberi says:

    I first met Joe when I became friends with Amy in high school. He always greeted me with a smile, spoke to the teenage me with respect, and made me feel at home at the Jovonovich household. Through the years, he came to represent to me a man of kindness, stability and integrity. He was a gift to Fargo-Moorhead and to the world. May He Rest in Peace.

  10. Christine Jovonovich says:

    My father was a man of integrity and honor. He was a leader and faced life head on. To me, he was fearless. There was not a soul on earth he would not help and he always believed in second chances. He was extremely intelligent and loved to indulge in lengthy conversations! He was an avid outdoorsman and sharp shooter. There really wasn’t much my father couldn’t figure out. He was an extremely integral part of my children’s lives as well as my own. I will miss him dearly but know with every ounce of my being that he will be one of God’s chosen leaders in the Kingdom of Heaven. Rest in peace my beloved father.

  11. Elizabeth (Loween) Miller says:

    Sending sincere sympathy to Joe’s family. We, the Wadena High School Class of 1962, have many good memories of Joe as a friend and a wrestler. May your memories comfort you toady and in the days to come.

  12. Todd Taylor says:

    I was one of four “baby” agents (That is how Joe refered to us) assigned to the DEA office in Fargo, ND, in 1989. Joe was our boss, teacher and most of all, our friend. I could not have asked for a better person to learn from. Thank you Joe. Sue an I send our sincere sympathy to Joe’s family.

  13. Amonda Christian says:

    I will always remember and cherish the fun times fishing with Uncle Joe at the lake. We’d fish for the first fish. We’d fish for the biggest fish. We’d even fish for whatever the requirements were for a fish that day. But in the end both of us would go out afterwards and get a banana split. Usually with extra sprinkles. I’ll miss being on the boat and him teaching me how to properly handle a fish. May he rest in peace with love and extra sprinkles.

  14. Debbie Annear Helbling says:

    I used to work in federal bldg/post iffice when DEA was located there. I would see Joe and Charlie in the halkways all the time. What a super nice guy he was. He and Jan were also friends of my parents Gary and Gloria Annear. Gary passed in Dec/2020 so im guessing Gary and Joe are having quite the conversation right now..

  15. Frank A Mosier says:

    Joe, as my college roommate and wrestling teammate was such a huge inspiration to everyone who knew him because of his model, persona, and strong minded discipline.
    We won the 1964 NAIA Collegiate National Wrestling Championship at Moorhead State University 1964 because of teammates like Joe.
    Joe was bigger, stronger, and mentally tougher than the quiet of his personality would ever reflect. His IQ (Intelligence Quotient) was 2nd only to his IQ (Integrity Quotient)!
    It was a very fortunate opportunity for me to share college with Joe and learn about his life, values, and many successes documented through great stories. Lucky, lucky me! Joe was a tremendous inspiration!
    Thank You Joe…and please God Bless Jan & family for my great fortune of that opportunity!
    Frank & Leslye Mosier

  16. Jeanette Wohlman says:

    I was the Office Assistant working with Joe at the DEA Fargo Resident Office. I have memories of many busy days in that office. Earl and I send our sincere sympathy to Joe’s family.

  17. Tom O’Halloran says:

    I have known Joe since he came to Fargo and became fast friends after sharing a bottle of Baileys. For the last 20+ years we would have a “business meeting” at one of the BWW’s in Fargo on Tuesdays that would last no less than 2 hours! Joe was an extremely loyal friend and was always ready to help me with whatever I would need. He was a devoted family man who loved Jan, his daughters and grandchildren. I will surely miss him!

  18. ERMA says:

    Sincere condolences to the Jovonvich family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Joe was a “salt of the earth” man. He was a great family man and friend. We will always remember him.
    Bruce and Erma London & family

  19. Lana bakir says:

    My grandpa was one of the toughest guys I know. I remember vividly he came to one of my softball games, and a softball came flying and hit him in the head and he said “that stung a bit” and went on like nothing happened. He always taught me and my sisters to be the hardest workers we can be, and to go above and beyond for anyone who was watching us. He wanted us to live a comfortable lifestyle and to be able to have all the things we want/need. Although you’d rarely hear an “I love you” from him, his actions showed you his unconditional love. From changing your tires, filling your gas, getting you the newest phone, or just simply going out with you to go shooting/fishing. He was always someone that I could turn to if I ever needed something, and he was at every single one of my sporting events. He was my father figure and someone I will
    Miss until the day I die. The best man that will ever be in my life.

  20. Barbara & Ron Middlemiss says:

    First met Joe when he visited his sister Jane when he visited her in Queensland, Australia and had the pleasure of being his card playing partner in our “500” card playing group here at Seachange over 50’s resort. A true gentleman of the old school.

  21. Mark Sorenson says:

    Joe was a friend and work associate. I enjoyed our Pheasant hunts and time together until I was transferred. My deepest sympathy to the family of Joe. He will be missed.

  22. Sarah Jovonovich Law says:

    My Uncle Joey was an amazing man, I have so many memories growing up spending time at the lake or in Fargo, playing cards, going fishing, listening to stories and just having fun with family. Uncle Joey was very smart, kind and generous. He loved his family very much. He will be missed by so many. Rest in peace and love Uncle Joey. Please take care of Grandma and Grandpa J.

  23. Missy "Braith" Vogt says:

    My uncle Joe was one of the kindest men I had ever met. I remember many things about him. One was his famous pancakes he’d make up at Mille Lacs at their cabin. He’d wake up before everyone and so when you woke the smell of his delicious breakfast was the first thing you woke up too. His kind words and encouragement through the years will be something I carry with me always. Also his love for my aunt Jan was priceless. The times we spent as a family are some of the happiest memories I have. I will forever miss him. And I know he is rejoicing with the Lord. We love and miss you Uncle Joe.❤

  24. Erv wickham says:

    Joe you well me greatly missed. You always reminded me so much of your dad. Great at telling stories and would be hard pressed to find a better card player. If you ever asked Joe about a gun you had better be ready for a lengthy answer. Joe I’m sure you either playing cards or in a shooting competition right now, remember no haling timber in cribbage. RIP Joe

  25. Royce & Marion Wolf says:

    Jan and family,
    I cannot express enough on how sorry I am to hear of Joe’s passing. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Joe for the last 20 plus years. He has done a lot for the Gaming Commission as well as for my family. He truly was the most kind person you could ever meet. He talked fondly of you all I’m going to miss his stories and his knowledge he shared. God bless you all.

  26. Tari Birkelo says:

    You put together a beautiful service. Very perfect tribute
    Thinking of you all~

  27. Patti Ireland says:

    Thank you, Papa God, for blessing each of us with the gift of knowing Joe Jovonovich.

  28. Roger Braith says:

    I was proud to have joe as a brother in law and friend my heart is broken for my sister Jan and her girls. Joe and was there when my wife Kim passed away from cancer. Joe was a man of dignity myself and my kids Pete and missy will miss him dearly Roger Braith

  29. Rick Kelvington says:

    Former teammate from Moorhead State who also shared a modern dance class where Joe’s flat feet provided a challenge. Joe was a gentleman that I will never forget. Our sincerest sympathy to Joe’s family.
    Rest in peace, friend.

  30. Tim Cruff says:

    Joe and I shared tables at some gun shows in years past. We went shooting a few times and I was always amazed at how he could shoot round after round of some very large pistols and revolvers without giving any indication of the recoil that they produced. I shot a lot but determined that he was tougher than I was and I would stick with my lowly 44s, 45s, and 357s. We took the ham radio class and got our licenses at the same time. I was honored when he invited me to his home to see his collection, and he wanted to make sure the specs on a couple of my revolvers were correct. We had law enforcement and teaching in common, so we had plenty to talk about. It has been a few years since we had chatted. You always think you will have more time. Joe was amazing, and I am thankful to have known him. It was a very nice service.

  31. steve germann says:

    Jan and family. On behalf of the entire Germann family please accept our sincere sympathy. It sounds like Joe had a full life with many adventures. But most important, was a great husband, father and grandfather. We hope that the memories you all have provide some comfort.

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