Carl T. Johnson formerly of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota died peacefully April 23, 2019 in Amery WI of complications of a stroke at the age of 92. He was born June 11, 1926 in the Warren, Minnesota hospital to Agnes Theodora (Thorkildson), and Carl Alphonse Johnson.
Carl’s formal education began at the Happy Corner country school near the family grain farm in northwestern Minnesota and he subsequently attended school in Stephen, Minnesota. By the age of 16, he and his siblings were fatherless and their mother a widow, their dad felled by unexpected heart failure.
The family moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to be near Agnes’s sister Magda and her husband Agner Tanner, where he spent his senior year enjoying the companionship of cousins he came to hold in high regard, pulled weekend shifts at candy factories, drove cab and was graduated. He added Montana ranch hand to his resume before being drafted into the U.S. Navy, November 1944.
Boot camp landed him at Great Lakes, Illinois. He completed Gunners Mate School at Bainbridge, Maryland. On ship’s deck and dockside in the Philippines, Carl survived WWII without incident and was honorably discharged April 11, 1946.
His older brother Wally helped Carl help himself to the GI Bill, earn a career and choose his family of the future when he enrolled Carl at Concordia College, Moorhead MN. “If it hadn’t been for Wally, I’m sure I never would’ve gone to college,” Carl often said, “and I never would have met your mother.” Carl was graduated in January 1950 with a math degree. He played golf on the school team and he and his friends enjoyed the independence given the older students who had served in the war. He married Betty Schroeder of Erie, ND on June 18, 1950 at First Lutheran Church, Fargo, ND; a church which welcomed them with open arms after their original venue burned.
Wallin Motors in Steele, ND hired Carl to sell Hudson autos that year and Betty secured a teaching position. Following Steele the couple enjoyed living in Roseau, MN where Carl worked in the automobile business, and daughter Stephanie was born. He subsequently worked for Commercial Credit Corporation in Fargo, North Dakota.
Carl signed the first contract of his 35-year career in public education in 1954 teaching math in Barnsville, Minnesota and son, Craig was born. Subsequently, Carl and Betty taught in Lanesboro, MN. Seeking administrative experience, Carl then assumed a High School Principal position in Eagle Bend, MN. Their reminiscences include the appreciation of small town life.
In 1961, Carl moved his family to Japan when he joined the administrative ranks of the U.S. Air Force Dependent schools and son Steven was born. There he served as Principal at Yamato High School which was affiliated with Tachikawa Air Force base. They lived off-base, and he traveled to Hong Kong for an education summit expanding his world view.
Back on U.S. soil in 1962, Carl assumed principalships at Wheaton, MN two years, then another ten years at Morris, MN, before returning to Wheaton where he became the Superintendent of Schools.
He concluded his full-time employment as superintendent of the Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and the Blind in Faribault, Minnesota in 1986. After retirement, he served as interim superintendent in Grand Marias, MN, Wakpala, SD and Elbow Lake, MN.
Carl served on numerous organizational boards throughout his career. In later years, he chaired the Lida township board and served on the Trinity Lutheran Church council. He engaged in public philanthropy and anonymous charity.
He and Betty retired to Lake Lida, near Pelican Rapids, MN, where they built a four-season home around the original Johnson-Peterson cabin built in 1949. When Betty incurred short-term memory loss, he became her primary care-giver.
Carl enjoyed buying and selling antiques, particularly delighting in finding unusual pieces that Betty would treasure. He had fond memories of several fishing trips to Canada with friends and family as well as pheasant and duck hunting in western Minnesota and deer hunting in northern Minnesota. He took pride in a tidy yard, tending his flower gardens, and was always ready for good conversation.
Carl T. Johnson was a hard worker and rarely expected more of others than he demanded of himself. He chased an American Dream and found it. He was proud of Betty’s teaching career and ability to create a warm and welcoming home. He was proud and of his children and grand children.
Carl was preceded in death by his parents, Carl Alphonse and Agnes Johnson, older brother Rev. A. Wallace (Joyce) Johnson, his infant siblings Alice, David and Ellen., and many close In-Laws and friends.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Betty and their children: Stephanie (David Hagen) Hagen-Johnson of Moorhead, MN and Sun City West, AZ, Craig (Jane Edmister) Johnson of Amery, Wisconsin, their children Paula (Peter) Tonn and their children Levi and Greg, of Lodi, Wisconsin. Laura (Stuart) Radde and their children June and Maeve, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Christopher (Justine) Johnson and their son Cole of Menomonie, Wisconsin, and Steven (Beth Hoback) Johnson of Hudson, Wisconsin and their children Elaina, Carter, and Andrew, of Hudson, Wisonsin.
Siblings: Verona Peterson, Pelican Rapids, MN and her family, Luther Johnson, Stephen, MN and Bullhead City, AZ and his family, Mary Ann Johnson of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The family of Wally and Joyce Johnson, sister-in-law Margaret Vawter and her family, and many nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends also remember Carl’s life.
We extend abiding thanks to Carl and Betty’s caring and conscientious neighbors at Lake Lida, and to their caregivers in the Pelican Rapids, MN area and in Amery, WI.
Carl expressed a life-long preference memorials be directed to a charity of the giver’s choice.
Funeral: Thursday, May 9, 2019 at 2 p.m., First Lutheran Church, Amery, Wisconsin with visitation one hour prior. Internment with Military Honors will be held at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota Friday, May 10, 2019 at 11:30 a.m.
Online: www.williamsonwhite.com. Arrangements with Williamson-White Funeral Home, Amery, WI. (715-268-7111).