Cover photo for Leonard Johnson's Obituary
Leonard Johnson Profile Photo
1921 Leonard 2014

Leonard Johnson

February 23, 1921 — April 8, 2014

Funeral services for Leonard Johnson will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at First English Lutheran Church, with visitation one hour prior to the service.

Rev. David Tonn will officiate, with music provided by Marilyn Hanson and Shirley Lynne. Honorary bearers will be Leonard's fellow Marshall teachers and his nieces and nephews. Burial will be in Mound Cemetery.

Leonard Olaf Johnson was born on February 23, 1921, in Melby, Minnesota to Anders Gustav and Anne Bergitte (Bjorgan) Johnson. He was the youngest of nineteen children. Leonard graduated from Alexandria High School and began teacher's training at Moorhead State Teacher's College. His education was interrupted by WWII, and Leonard proudly served in the U.S. Navy, achieving the rank of Lieutenant junior grade. He was honorably discharged and received the Victory Medal, along with medals for serving in the American Theatre, European-African-Middle East Theatre, and the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre. After the war, Leonard returned to Moorhead State to complete his studies, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education. On August 4, 1957, he was united in marriage with Barbara Joan Gruse; they had two children.

Leonard began a long teaching career in the Marshall Public School System in 1949 as an English teacher. As time passed, his work encompassed that of speech coach, drama coach, speech therapist, and special education coordinator. Leonard was a member of the "Four Professors," a musical quartet consisting of Leonard and three fellow teachers. This group entertained local audiences for many years with songs and skits. Leonard also warmed people's hearts with his clever wit and down-home Norwegian charm. While living in Marshall, he was actively involved in his church and was also a member of the Lions Club, Toastmasters International, and Golden K (Kiwanis) organizations. Leonard retired from teaching in 1984.

For many, many years Leonard and his family had enjoyed coming to Big Stone Lake to spend time at their cabin. In 1996, Leonard and Barb decided to make Big Stone Lake and Ortonville, Minnesota their permanent home. After moving to the lake, Leonard was involved in the Ortonville Kiwanis and First English Lutheran Church.

Leonard's hobbies included fishing, reading, poetry, and completing crossword and Sudoku puzzles. Leonard also enjoyed hunting for Indian artifacts along the lakeshore near the family cabin. He was an avid fan of the Minnesota Vikings, Twins, and Gophers. Leonard is best remembered for his warm, gentle spirit and caring personality. Above all was Leonard's love and devotion to Barb, Brian and Anne.

Leonard died on April 8, 2014, having reached the age of 93. He will be deeply missed.

Leonard is survived by his wife, Barbara of Ortonville; son Brian (Alison) Johnson of Avon, MN; daughter Anne Johnson (Jack Reale) of Arlington, VA; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Leonard was preceded in death by his parents and siblings.

In lieu of flowers or plants the family requests memorials to Big Stone Healthcare Foundation and Rice Hospice-Ortonville Branch.


First English Lutheran Church
9 3rd St NW
Ortonville, MN 56278

Saturday, April 12, 2014
10:00 AM


First English Lutheran Church
9 3rd St. NW
Ortonville, MN 56278

Saturday, April 12, 2014
11:00 AM


Mound Cemetery
29519 County Highway 33
Clinton, MN 56225

Saturday, April 12, 2014
12:00 PM


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