Funeral services for Robert Johnson were held Aug. 13, 2012, at Faith Lutheran Church, Forest Lake, MN. He died Aug. 8, at St. Paul, MN.
Robert Harold Johnson was born in Yankton on Sept. 1, 1918, to Lewis and Ericka Johnson; Ericka emigrated from Norway at the age of 16.
As a young man, Bob worked on the farm, hunted ducks with his dad and in limited spare time, played some football. In 1940, with the 147th Field Artillery of the National Guard, Bob served in the Army in the South Pacific and Australia.
He had some near misses as he recovered from an eight-month bout of rheumatic fever and shipped out of Pearl Harbor shortly before the infamous attack. Although offered the opportunity to be an officer in the Army, Bob chose to remain with his colleagues until discharged in 1945.
After the war, Bob was a budding business owner, bought a bowling alley in Vermillion, where he met his future bride, Gwen Hansen, forming a loving partnership that lasted 64 years. He convinced Gwen to move to Forest Lake, where they opened Bob Johnson Sporting Goods. After living for six months in the back of the store, they moved and readied themselves for the birth of their son Dick in 1951. Debbie followed in a year and a half and Jan, three and a half years later. Bob would later establish a successful insurance agency as well as return to the bowling alley business as a co-owner of Town & Country Lanes.
Bob and Gwen embraced Forest Lake and involved themselves quickly in the community. A founder and past president of the FL Chamber of Commerce, Bob was active in the FL Development Corporation. He was also an enthusiastic supporter and sponsor of several high school athletic sports. With other local businessmen and golf enthusiasts, he was a founding member of Forest Hills Golf Club. As an avid outdoorsman, it was only natural that he would be involved in the start-up of the FL Ducks Unlimited Committee, serving as chairman of the annual membership and sponsor banquets. Bob and Gwen have been faithful members of Faith Lutheran Church for more than 60 years. Bob served on the church council after the church burned and the current church was built on North Shore Drive.
Bob and Gwen had an active social life, bowling, golfing and playing whist and bridge, forging friendships to last a lifetime.
Bob enjoyed supporting his children in their activities. A loyal Minnesota Twins fan, Bob was a regular at the Forest Lake baseball field. He also enjoyed cheering his grandchildren as they participated in baseball, basketball, football, hockey and gymnastics.
An ardent sportsman, sitting in a duck blind or casting for walleye or sunfish with his friends and family was a real joy for him. Whether hunting in Minnesota, South Dakota or Canada, he enjoyed the camaraderie of friends and family. He made sure that his children knew how to filet a fish, weave a duck blind and dip ducks in wax, in preparation for defeathering. Leading by example, he taught his children and grandchildren so much about work ethic and always giving over 100 percent.
Ninety-three years young, Bob stayed vibrant through his continued interest in others, young and old. He was truly one-of-a-kind and we feel blessed to have known him.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Gwendolyn (Hansen) Johnson; a son, Richard (Rebecca) Johnson; daughters Debra (Dan) Campanaro and Jan (Earl) Dick; grandchildren Andrew (Yvonne) Schmidt, Alex Johnson, Sam Johnson, Matthew (Sarorn) Swanson, Cody Dick and Logan Dick; sisters-in-law, Jacqueline Johnson, Janet Gilbertson, Betty Hansen and Gwen Hansen; and nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.
Bob was preceded in death by a grandson, Nicholas Swanson; parents, Lewis and Ericka (Sjerstad) Johnson; a sister, Ruth Peterson and a brother, William Johnson.
Inurnment with VFW Post 4210 and American Legion Post 225 Military Honors was held at Faith Lutheran Columbarian, Forest Lake, MN.