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Willis Howard Johnson

Willis Howard Johnson

Aug. 22, 1925 - Nov. 1, 2013

WILLMAR - Willis Howard Johnson, age 88, of Willmar, died Friday, November 1, 2013 at Luther Haven in Montevideo. A Memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday November 9, 2013 at the Evangelical Free Church, in Willmar. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. Arrangements are with Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar.

Willis Howard Johnson was born to Emil and Esther (Frost) Johnson on August 22, 1925 in Minneapolis, MN. He graduated from South High School in 1943 and Augsburg College in 1947. He enrolled at Trinity Seminary in Chicago and then married Miriam Olson in 1948. Upon completion of Seminary in 1952, Willis served as a pastor for seven years in both Wisconsin and Iowa. After a brief stint as a high school English teacher, Willis and Miriam moved their family to Willmar in 1961 to accept a job as a Kandiyohi County social worker. He worked there for the next 35 years until his retirement. Miriam passed away on Mother's Day in 1993 after a fifteen year battle with cancer.

Willis enjoyed his family, church, music, gardening, and fishing. As a founding member of the Willmar Evangelical Free Church, he was a board member and leader for many years. He was an enthusiastic soloist and choir member. He played the piano and trumpet, and dabbled in playing many other instruments. And, although he was not an accomplished instrumentalist, he thoroughly enjoyed the process of learning and trying.

On June 1st, 1996 Willis married Shirley Sandness. Together they enjoyed a home and church in Florida during the winter, and would come back to Minnesota for the summers to enjoy both their families and many friends.

Willis is survived by his wife; Shirley, brother; Joel (Joan) Johnson of Bloomington, children; Mark (Patricia) Johnson of Independence, Timothy (Linda) Johnson of Coon Rapids, Melinda (Lyle) Isaacson of Zimmerman, Brent (Shiann) Johnson of Independence, stepson; Steve (Kelly) Brendmoen of Montevideo, grandchildren; Anne (Tyler) Hess, Claire (Micah) Benway, Ross (Lynn) Johnson, Blake Johnson, Jill (Sam) McKernon, Jana (Robert) Lambeth, Rachel Avery, Neal Thompson, Aliya Johnson, Averie Johnson, step grandchildren, Haley (Tony) Haberle, Taylor Brendmoen, and twelve great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his first wife; Miriam, parents; Emil and Esther Johnson, siblings; Margarite Martin, Burt Johnson, Emil Johnson, and Donald Johnson.