In Memory of Merlin Johnson
Merlin Allan Johnson, age 90, passed away peacefully and surrounded by family February 2, 2021, at the Burnett Medical Center in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.
He was born July 5, 1930, to Arthur and Agnes Johnson of Falun, Wisconsin, as the fifth of six children. He was baptized and confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church. He was proud of his Swedish heritage and knew much about the history of local friends and families. He especially loved Swedish traditions such as lutefisk on Christmas Eve.
Merlin attended grade school in Falun and high school in Grantsburg, graduating salutatorian of the class of 1947. It was at GHS that he met his beloved wife, Carol Thor, when they were crowned homecoming king and queen. They were married in 1957 and together they lovingly raised two children, Allan and Janet. Merlin enjoyed the outdoors, farm work, and the family camaraderie at the Thor century farm. He also enjoyed hunting and annual fishing trips to Canada with family and friends, creating tremendous memories for all.
While attending Augsburg College, Merlin enjoyed working as a cook at the Normandy Hotel. He graduated in 1951 with a math major and chemistry minor. He then taught math and was Principal at Danbury. In 1952 he was drafted for the service and stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he was on staff for artillery training during the Korean War. In 1954, he taught math and science at Siren. In 1955, Merlin accepted a contract in Grantsburg for teaching, coaching, and assisting A. T. Nelson with administrative duties. He attended UW-Superior and Purdue to receive a master’s degree in school administration. In 1962, Merlin became Superintendent of Grantsburg Schools, a position he proudly held for 29 years, dedicated to serving the Grantsburg community until his retirement in 1991.
With a fundamental kindness and sense of public service, Merlin was active in Rotary for 58 years, was a member of the American Legion, and was on the Burnett County Board. In these and several other leadership roles, he appreciated teamwork and encouraged everyone’s unique talents.
Merlin’s life reflected his strong faith. After marriage, he joined Bethany Lutheran Church, where he served on council, sang in the choir, and taught Sunday School for 40+ years. He opened his Sunday School class with “Create in me a clean heart, oh God; and renew a right spirit within me….” as he learned at morning chapel at Augsburg.
Merlin loved his grandchildren unconditionally and made sure each of them knew how special and loved they were. Memories of their many visits are endless ... feeding the cats and dogs on the farm, tractor and hay wagon rides, ice fishing, picnics in the woods, deer hunting, telling stories, eating his delicious breakfasts with cousins around the kitchen table, and smiling at new great-grandchildren. Grandpa's legacy lives on through his family.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Donald (Parnell) Johnson and Dallas Johnson; sisters, Dorothy (Kenneth) Holoien and Imogene (Alwin) Christopherson.
He is survived by Carol, his wife of 63 years; sister Katherine (Jack) Hedlund; children, Allan (Rhonda) Johnson, Janet (Charles) Dotzler; five grandchildren, Paul Johnson, Eric (Lydia) Johnson, Heather (Donovan) Sullivan, Steven (Megan) Dotzler, Sarah Dotzler; and three great-grandchildren, Claire Johnson, Theodore Sullivan, and Edith Sullivan.
A private funeral for the immediate family will be held February 6, at Bethany Lutheran Church with Pastor Jay Ticknor officiating and with military honors. Interment will be at the Riverside Cemetery in Grantsburg.
Arrangements were entrusted to Swedberg-Taylor Funeral Home, Grantsburg.