June 15, 2024

Leon Johnson

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Leon Johnson, 78, of rural Barrett, passed away on June 12, 2023 at Methodist Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, MN.

A celebration of life service will be held on Saturday, July 15 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at Peace Lutheran Church in Barrett. Visitation will take place one hour prior to the service.  A private interment will occur at Immanuel Church in rural Barrett.

Leon Walter Johnson was born May 5, 1945 at home, to become the sixth child of Adolph and Beatrice (Ostenson) Johnson. He attended first and second grade at the District #67 school in Lien township, and then the Barrett Elementary School, going on to graduate with the class of 1963 from Barrett High School. Leon’s work ethic and passion for community improvement through service was formed early in family and farm life. As a youth, he was active in Grant County 4-H, Immanuel Lutheran church youth activities, and Barrett Laker class plays, football, basketball, track, band and choir programs. He served as his class president for five years and was a member of the men’s a cappella octet. After graduation, he attended North Dakota State University and then transferred to the University of Minnesota-Morris where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics Education in 1967. Leon married Judy Kube on August 7, 1966. He went on to serve the United States for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, writing mathematics curriculum and initiating community development in Antique. On his return to the States, he taught junior high mathematics at Marshall Junior High School in St. Paul for three years, and then purchased his uncle’s dairy and small grains farm in 1973, milking cows until 1986. He began teaching grades 7-12 mathematics and elective computer science at the Deer Creek Schools in 1986. He was divorced in 1991. After school pairing, he continued to teach high school mathematics at the Wadena-Deer Creek High School until 2001. He married Faith Rudnitski on June 12, 1998. Given the opportunity for a shorter commute, Leon joined the faculty of West Central High School in Barrett as senior high mathematics teacher and served as the National Honor Society advisor from 2001 until his retirement in 2009. During his teaching career, Leon continued to farm, sometimes by moonlight. He enjoyed being a full-time farmer after his retirement from teaching. His final written words were: I wish I could be teaching and farming again.

Leon was an optimist. He believed in family, hard work and being involved to make a difference. He was enthusiastically involved in: Grant County Barber Shop Singers, DFL, Farmer’s Union and Lions; Prairie Wind Players Community Theatre; Immanuel Church Building and Cemetery Board; Barrett Pavilion Restoration; Peace Lutheran Church and Peace Men’s Choir; and in the past, Lincoln Lutheran Church. Throughout his life, his close friends became family and he actively worked to maintain those connections.

He is survived by his wife, Faith; children Michelle (Andrew Greengrass), Beth (Dennis Heifner), Jeremy (Sonal Patel), and Turquoya; six grandchildren Benji and Adam Greengrass, Stella and Hazel Heifner, and Arun and Ravi Johnson; siblings Ronald (Kay) Johnson, Carolyn (John) Wiig, Karen (Robbie) Olson, and Eileen (Ron) Werk; and David Ehlers, many cousins and life-long friends whose friendship he valued above money.

Leon was preceded in death by his parents, Adolph and Beatrice Johnson, brothers Odell, LeRoy and Burton Johnson, and sister Ione Peterson.

Arrangements are with Erickson-Smith Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the American Cancer Society or the Prairie Wind Players Community Theatre.

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