Russell Gilbert Johnson was born December 8, 1933, in Fargo, North Dakota, to Eric Algot and Carrie A. (Hansen) Johnson. He was baptized at Maple Sheyenne Lutheran Church in Harwood, North Dakota, and attended grade schools in Prosper. In the Fall of 1944, he moved with his family to a farm near Hawley, Minnesota. He graduated from Hawley High School in 1951 and worked on the family farm until enlisting in the US Army in October 1954, during the Korean Conflict. He served in Germany and following his honorable discharge in September 1957, moved to Minneapolis. He studied at Dunwoody Technical College, and later received his degree as an Automotive Technician. He took employment in Owatonna and there he met his future wife Karen Kriesel. They married on April 8, 1962, at St. John Lutheran Church. After marriage they moved to Litchfield where Russell worked as a service manager for a car dealership. In 1964, they moved to Northfield and Russell began working as an automotive technician at Enfield Motors. In 1968, they bought their hobby farm in the Little Prairie Community. In 1974, Russell went to work for JD Ford which later became Dokmo Ford Chrysler. He retired in 2000.
Over the years Russell farmed, raised livestock, and was a 4H leader. Following retirement he continued working on his hobby farm, helping his son David farm, working on cars and tractors, collecting clocks, and traveling with Karen. He was a 50 year active member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church where he served on church council, as church president, as usher, as deacon and as a Sunday School teacher. He loved to farm, listen to the radio (WCCO & Garrison Keiler), books on tape, travel, and being around his family and 15 grandchildren. He was a good son, a good brother, a good parent, a good grandfather, a good neighbor, a good church member and a good man!
Survivors include wife, Karen of 52 years; 3 children and their spouses: David and Cindy of Owatonna, Daniel and Joy of Elko, Kristine and Todd Bauernfeind of Kenyon; 15 grandchildren: Ashley Holst (Tom), Tiffany Johnson (fiancee Greg Gehring), Tim and Justin Johnson, James and John Johnson, Alexis, Miranda, Naomi, Nathanael, Gabriel, Joshua, Rachel, Hope and Shawn Bauernfeind; 4 brothers: Roger (Jeannie) of Bloomington, Paul, Gary and Darrell, all of Hawley; 7 sisters: Marie Holm of Dilworth, Marge (Marvin) Thompson of Perley, Janet (Vern) Crabtree of Hawley, Diane (Harlan) Hovelson of Hawley, Ginger Tangen of Grand Forks, Frances (Bill) Richter of Glyndon, Katherine (Ken) Dahl of Hawley; many nieces and nephews, other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and stillborn brother William.
Russell peacefully passed away with his family and brother by his side on Friday evening, May 9, 2014, at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis, at the age of 80.
Funeral services will be at 11:00AM Thursday, May 15, 2014, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Northfield with Rev. David Weeks officiating. Military Honors will be provided by the Northfield VFW & American Legion. Music will be provided by Donna Paulsen. Interment will be in St. John’s Cemetery, Owatonna. Pallbearers will be Chuck Anderson, Mike Crabtree, Duane Halverson, Mark Holm, Brian Hutton, Ross Johnson and Kevin Thompson. Visitation will be 4:30 – 7PM on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home in Northfield. Visitation will continue at the church on Thursday one hour prior to the service.
Memorials are preferred to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, the Rice County Veteran’s Mobility Van or The Fischer House at the Minneapolis VA.
Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. www.northfieldfuneral.com