Luverne E. Johnson
Luverne E. Johnson, age 75, of Good Thunder, with his wife beside him, took his last breath on Friday, February 21, 2020 at Cottagewood Senior Communities in Mankato.
Interment with military honors will be held at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, 7601 34th Ave S, Minneapolis, on Friday, February 28, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. A memorial visitation will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, February 28, 2020 at the Northview - North Mankato Mortuary, 2060 Commerce Drive, North Mankato. Following the visitation, a prayer service will begin at 6:00 p.m.
Luverne Edward, the son of Elmer and Mary Marguerite (Pfeffer) Johnson, was born on July 2, 1944, in Mankato. In his younger years, Luverne (aka Vern or Ernie) grew up on his parents' farm and attended Lake Crystal Schools, of which he graduated in 1962. He often shared memories of his childhood days, friends and family. One of those stories was while he was in high school, he was a wrestler. A match was held between him and a wrestler, who happened to be ranked #1 in the state for his division. During the wrestling match, Vern was able to pin him down.
After graduating from school, Vern went right into the military. He served for the United States Army from 1962-1968. He served as a Military Policeman and Specialist 4, where he was in Special Operations Forces. He traveled all over the globe, including Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, and South America. As part of his military duty, he served a year in Ethiopia, where he was a personal bodyguard for the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie. He also delivered presidential and diplomatic documents, including some for JFK. At the end of his service, he was flown back home to America in Queen Elizabeth's airplane.
After serving his country, he married Maria Backhaus on November 27, 1971. They decided to start their new lives and family together in Good Thunder, MN.
He worked for Toledo Scale driving truck and fixing scales for a few years. When he became a father, he left Toledo Scale to be around for his family and worked for Jones Metal Products as a sheet metal fabricator for over 40 years. He helped create the Ronald McDonald collection bins underneath the windows at the McDonald's drive-thru.
He was a simple man who appreciated everything life had to offer. He was proud of his family and provided undivided attention when you visited with him. He always lent a helping hand and was willing to set his needs aside to help or listen to others. He walked everyone to their car, would say, "Have a good one" with a nod of his head, and saw them off with a wave.
He gave his heart and his time to his children. He made many sacrifices out of love for them and put their needs ahead of his own. There were nights he would assist in science fair projects, shuttling his daughters to and from sports and activities at school, and waiting up to make sure they got home safe at night when they were out for the evening. He taught his daughters how to be self sufficient, cook, garden, treat medical injuries and illness, maintain their cars, and fix things around the house.
There was not much in life that he didn't enjoy. You could find him tinkering in the garage, where he used his creativity to build various adaptations and inventions. He spent time outside at his parents' farm, fishing, riding motorcycles, listening to music, and spending time with his family around a bonfire. He found delight in solving Sunday crosswords, cryptoquotes, watching football and boxing, or sketching home floor plans. He loved family road trips and had a dry and off-the-wall sense of humor. He also enjoyed reading history novels during his lunch break at work.
Luverne was amazing in the kitchen, where he was able to create delicious foods without the use of recipes. He loved a good fish dinner and BBQ ribs, which he dabbled with until he found the perfect method to prepare them. On the weekends, you'd wake to the smell of fried potatoes, eggs, bacon, pancakes, and coffee. He took pride in his homemade sauerkraut, pickled beets, jellies, beer, and wine. He was always ready to share with anyone.
One of his biggest passions was gardening. He often prepared for the growing season months in advance, with seedlings ready just before the last frost. He even created a hydroponic garden in his basement during one winter. All of his produce was grown with love, as he shared it with family, friends, and neighbors.
He loved playing board games with his family. There were many nights spent playing Monopoly, Scrabble, and Chinese checkers. Often he would bring out the card table, to play a game of Gin Rummy, using peanuts in the shell as currency.
Vern highly enjoyed being a grandfather. Whenever the grandbabies were unable to fall asleep, he would hold and rock them in a special way, that when he laid them down, they would remain asleep long enough for their moms to get some rest. He would get down on the floor to play with his grandkids, fingerpaint, color, dig in the garden, make messes in the kitchen as he let them assist with baking, and helped his grandchildren explore the world around them. He often stepped up to the plate to pick up his grandchildren from school and care for them while their moms were at work or school.
He loved animals, especially Lady, his favorite dog. One day, Vern purchased his neighbor's house and the dog, Lady came with the purchase. From then on, he would often joke that when he purchased the neighbor's dog, he had received the house for free. He also had a heart for stray cats in the neighborhood, which he had a cat sanctuary in his garage where they were allowed to crawl in to stay safe and warm and have food and drink.
He always came up with creative ways to gift someone. For his wife's birthday, he grabbed a tree branch, placed several lottery tickets on it and planted it into a snowbank. He once gathered a batch of baby bullheads and placed them in a fish aquarium for his daughters to enjoy. He would give "just because" gifts to those he loved, such as care packages when his daughter was in college, or bring by a box of goodies. Yearly, he would present his wife and daughters a bowl full of freshly cut roses from the rose bushes at his home.
Whenever you came for a visit, you always left with something, whether it was something he picked fresh from his garden, advice, a life lesson or love. You learned the importance to take life easy, appreciate and love those around you, work hard, take time to play, nothing is worth the rush, do the right thing even when no one is watching, be humble, appreciate the simplest things in life, be present when you are with someone, be a good listener, take nothing for granted, laugh, and love.
During the last years of his life, he met the biggest challenge of his life, dementia. With that, he was not alone in his walk, as his wife, daughters, and grandchildren walked by his side to help him through until his last day.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Maria "Mary" Johnson; daughter, Anna Johnson and her children, Grace Mickelson and Ellen Mickelson; daughter, Barbra Johnson and her children, Conner and Aiden; and siblings, Helen "Pat" Anderson and Kenneth Johnson.
He was preceded in death by his parents; siblings, Barbara Johnson, Donald Johnson, and Betty Riley; and his beloved dog, Lady.
Memorial gifts may be directed to the Alzheimer's Association or B.E.N.C.H.S.
Your physical presence will be greatly missed, but your love and legacy will live in our hearts forever. You are the best husband, dad, and grandpa in the world. Please know that we love you and until we are with you again, "Have a good one".
Published on February 24, 2020


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