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Helen V. Johnson Sept. 9, 1917 - Feb. 9, 2013

Helen V. Johnson Sept. 9, 1917 - Feb. 9, 2013

WILLMAR - Helen V. Johnson, age 95, of Willmar, died Saturday, Feb. 9, at Bethesda Pleasant View Nursing Home in Willmar.

A memorial service will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Vinje Lutheran Church in Willmar with dinner served following the service. Interment will be at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Cloverleaf Memorial Park Cemetery. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Rice Hospice are preferred. Arrangements are with Peterson Brothers Funeral Home in Willmar. (

Helen Viola Johnson was born on September 9, 1917 in Lake Andrew Township, north of Willmar. Her parents, Lawrence H. Larson and May Kristine (Stene) Larson, were of Scandinavian heritage. Helen only spoke Norwegian until starting classes at County School 25 near Lake Florida. She was confirmed at the East Norway Lake Church where many of her pioneer relatives are interred. Her family moved to Willmar in the early 1930’s where she continued her schooling. Helen married Francis Clayton (Nib) Johnson at the Sunburg Parsonage on November 28th, 1941. Directly after the ceremony, they attended the 60th wedding anniversary celebration of Helen’s grandparents, Gabriel and Wilma Stene. Helen was first employed by the Willmar Gas Company as bookkeeper and later worked for the administration office of the Willmar School. She was a Red Cross Nurses Aid during World War II. Helen was a member of Vinje Lutheran Church for 66 years where she served as a Sunday school teacher, member of Circle, Mother’s Club and Altar Guild. She was also a Cub Scout Den Mother and later delivered Hot Meals on Wheels. She was a lifetime member and held several leadership positions with the Veterans of Foreign War Auxiliary 1639. Helen and Nib lived in their 2nd Street East home for over 61 years. Her home was the gathering place for relatives from across the United States. She also became the Stene family archivist. Helen’s grandfather, Gabriel, was the “Pioneer Kid” and wrote for the Willmar Tribune about life as an early settler. In addition to enjoying being with family and friends, Helen and Nib enjoyed card games, square dancing, golf, bowling, fishing and traveling.

She is survived by her children: Bruce Donald (and Karen) of Columbus, Ohio and Nancy Lee Larson of Minneapolis; five grandchildren: Sebine Johnson and Nathan Johnson of Columbus, Todd (and Macy Ashby) Larson of Minneapolis, Neysa (and Jason Hatfield) Larson of Portland, Oregon and Rebekka Larson of St. Petersburg, Florida; and one great-granddaughter: Anya Helen Hatfield-Larson of Portland. Helen is also survived by two brothers: Weldon (and Beulah) Larson and Richard (and Betty) Larson of Willmar; four sisters-in-law: Esther Johnson of Willmar, Luanne (and Sonny) Peterson of Shoreview, Geraldine Larson of Watertown, Denna Waters of Brooklyn Center; and one brother-in-law William (and Alice) Larson of St. Cloud.

Preceding Helen in death were her parents; her husband, Francis in 2002; two sisters: Lorraine Larson of Minneapolis and Dolores Reek of Renville; three brothers: Gordon Larson of Waterville, Roger Larson of New London, David Larson of Willmar; two sisters-in-law: Blanch Larson of Spicer; and Karen Lane of Minneapolis; and son-in-law Ross Larson of Minneapolis.