Susan Sue Johanson

March 13, 1930

93 Year(s)

June 28, 2023

3

Epitaph

Sue Johanson, a beacon of light and education in the often murky waters of human sexuality. With her candidness, humor, and vast knowledge, she guided many through their questions and concerns, smashing taboos along the way.

Biography

Susan "Sue" Johanson was a pioneering Canadian sex educator, public speaker, registered nurse, and television host, known for her forthright approach and ability to tackle taboo topics with humor and candor.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, to decorated British war hero Wilfrid Powell and Ontario-born Irish Protestant mother Ethel Bell, Johanson faced hardship early in life with the death of her mother when she was just ten. She attended nursing school in St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, graduating as a registered nurse. She married a Swedish-Canadian electrician named Ejnor Johanson, with whom she had three children: Carol, Eric, and Jane.

In 1970, Johanson made a significant contribution to public health by opening the first birth control clinic in a Canadian high school, located in Don Mills CI, where she worked as a coordinator for 18 years. She continued to expand her knowledge by studying at the Toronto Institute of Human Relations, the University of Toronto, and the University of Michigan, where she specialized in counseling, communication, family planning, and human sexuality.

Johanson first gained recognition as a sex educator and therapist by hosting her own radio show, "Sunday Night Sex Show," on rock radio station Q107 during the 1980s. The show transitioned to television on community television, Rogers TV, in 1985, and in 1996 it became a national show on the Women's Television Network (WTN), continuing until 2005. In 2002, reruns of the show began airing for American audiences on Oxygen Media, leading to the creation of a U.S. version, "Talk Sex with Sue Johanson," produced specifically for American audiences.

In addition to her radio and television work, Johanson made appearances on prominent TV shows including the "Late Show with David Letterman," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien". She also had a brief acting stint, appearing in two episodes each of "Degrassi Junior High" and "Degrassi: The Next Generation," where she played a character similar to her real-life persona.

Johanson was the author of three books, "Talk Sex," "Sex Is Perfectly Natural but Not Naturally Perfect," and "Sex, Sex, and More Sex". A full-length documentary about her life, titled "Sex with Sue," was released in 2022, detailing her vibrant career and significant contributions to sex education.

Johanson passed away at the age of 93 in a long-term care home in Thornhill, surrounded by her family. Her groundbreaking work in sex education, encapsulated in her unique blend of candidness and humor, continues to leave an indelible mark on Canadian culture and beyond.

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