Ove Claes Johansson, 75, of Amarillo, TX was welcomed peacefully into heaven on September 30, 2023. His arrival was marked by a fantastic Texas sunrise.
Celebration of Life Services will be held at 10:00 am on Thursday, October 12th, 2023, in the Chapel at Central Church of Christ with Executive Minister Greg Dowell officiating. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors.
Ove was born in Gothenburg, Sweden on March 31, 1948, to John and Britt Johansson. An inherently gifted athlete and professional soccer player in his native Sweden, Ove was encouraged by his father to immigrate to the United States. During his time in the Swedish Navy, a friend invited him to play soccer in the US and help initiate a soccer program in Dallas, TX. This invitation not only opened the door for Ove’s American dream but for an epic romance. Ove had been playing soccer with a European Exhibition team in the US for months, but an October 1972 match in Irving, Texas became the game-changer. At halftime, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Swede found himself distracted by a girl in the stands: April Lark Bankes. Barely able to speak English, he asked for her phone number. Through a series of serendipitous circumstances, the two found themselves attending Abilene Christian University where Ove graduated in 1977 with a B.S.Ed. degree. They married on August 6, 1976. Two months later on October 16, 1976, Ove kicked a world record setting 69-yard field goal at the Homecoming game between Abilene Christian and East Texas State, a record that still stands. Ove then became the oldest player ever drafted into the NFL at 28 years old, where he kicked for the Houston Oilers, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Dallas Cowboys. Following his stint in the NFL, Ove and April moved to Amarillo where Ove eventually began Johansson & Associates Financial Services. In 2001, he kicked yet another record setting field goal at 53 years old: a 53-yard field goal at the ACU Homecoming game, this time with his children present. On May 28, 2005, he was inducted into the ACU Centennial Hall of Fame. Ove was a proud and courageous Swedish American and a loyal and loving family man. He loved a well-timed joke and was an adept accordion player. In all things, Ove led with love and took great pride in encouraging those around him. His one-of-a-kind personality, gentle spirit, and tender heart will be deeply missed by those he leaves behind.
Ove was preceded in death by parents, John and Britt Johansson, and mother-in-law, Maxine Bankes. He is survived by his “other swan”, April Lark Johansson, daughter Annika Spalding and her husband Brett of Amarillo, son Stefan Johansson and Monica Mosier of Cheyenne, WY, his beloved grandchildren Olivia and Stellan Spalding, brother Robert Johansson, father-in-law Russell Bankes of Corsicana, TX, brother-in-law Mark Bankes of Dickson, TN, and extended family both here and abroad who loved and adored him.
Memorials may be made to The Salvation Army of Amarillo, High Plains Children’s Home, or Christian Relief Fund.
To read an in-depth tribute of Ove’s football career by Abilene Christian University, click here: