Memorial service set for New Orleans trainer who drowned in Florida

Jeremy Johnson
Jeremy Johnson

Friends and family will gather Saturday to celebrate the life of a popular local trainer who died two weeks ago in a swimming accident in Florida.

The memorial service for Jeremy Johnson will begin at 4 p.m. in the St. Charles Room of the Danna Center on Loyola University campus. A visitation will begin at 3 p.m. The service will end at 6 p.m.

The memorial service will be livestreamed at

Johnson, 39, was on an annual trip with several college friends when he went under while swimming off Navarre Beach, Fla., along the panhandle.

His brother, Sean Johnson, said it’s still not clear whether Jeremy Johnson was caught in a riptide or undertow, but he somehow got pulled underwater. Two of his friends tried to save him but were unsuccessful. His body surfaced a few hours later further down the beach.

“He was so full of life, and it’s just hard to believe that he’s gone,” Sean Johnson said. “We’re still all just shaking our heads.”

A native New Orleanian, Jeremy Johnson was born Sept. 17, 1973. He graduated from Ben Franklin High School and earned a degree in communications from Loyola.

He was previously director of wellness at the Loyola RecPlex, the university’s gym and sports center. Since 2003 he was a trainer at the New Orleans Athletic Club. He also worked as a massage therapist and an actor in several films and commercials.

Some of his training clients included former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and the Rev. Kevin Wildes, Loyola’s president.

“He touched so many people in a short life,” Sean Johnson said. “He was just a real force of nature.”

Wildes will eulogize Johnson during Saturday’s memorial, as will Gleason through a video presentation.

Johnson’s family has established the Jeremy Johnson Memorial Scholarship at Loyola to help students from New Orleans public schools who come from low-income families attend the university.

Johnson is survived by his parents, Bruce and Mary; his brothers, Sean and Matt; and longtime girlfriend Tessa Izdepski.

Sean Johnson said his brother was preparing to head to Ireland to propose to Izdepski, who was on a world trip.

“They were very much in love and on the way to a happy life,” Sean Johnson said.