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Published January 12, 2014, 12:00 AM

Harvey Johnson

Harvey Johnson was born March 21, 1928, in Hibbing, MN, the youngest child of Carl and Evelyn Karlstrom Johnson. His Depression-era youth was spent exploring the ore mounds and balsam and tamarack forests of the Iron Range. To his widowed mother's credit, Harv never knew his family was poor.

After graduating Hibbing High School in 1946, Harvey spent two years serving "Uncle Sam" in the U. S. Navy, specializing in electronics. Following military discharge, he attended Hibbing Junior College and Purdue University, where he completed a degree in physics in 1952.

Harvey Johnson

Harvey Johnson was born March 21, 1928, in Hibbing, MN, the youngest child of Carl and Evelyn Karlstrom Johnson. His Depression-era youth was spent exploring the ore mounds and balsam and tamarack forests of the Iron Range. To his widowed mother's credit, Harv never knew his family was poor.

After graduating Hibbing High School in 1946, Harvey spent two years serving "Uncle Sam" in the U. S. Navy, specializing in electronics. Following military discharge, he attended Hibbing Junior College and Purdue University, where he completed a degree in physics in 1952.

During the next seven years in Minneapolis, he not only tinkered with projects at Honeywell, but engineered a date or two with Marlys Robertson, a nursing student from the Dakotas. They married in 1954. After a move to the suburbs, they eventually uprooted four kids to Jamestown, ND, in 1960, where Harv took a job teaching English at the local high school. Two more kids filled the quiver to half a dozen by 1965.

Harvey expressed a love for literature among his students by day, and a passion for life always. He stayed fit swimming half an hour daily and jogging until he was 60. He built houses during the summers, finished a Master's degree through UND in his 40s, added physics to his teaching repertoire, sang in the church choir mostly for the socializing, golfed in his bare feet, tended a huge garden, put his chemistry skills to use making chokecherry wine, and canned thousands of jars of crabapple and high-bush cranberry ("sweat sock") jelly.

The Johnsons procured a lovely stretch of lake shore on Bad Medicine Lake near Itasca Park in MN, and built a rustic retirement home there over a three to five year span of time. In 1993 they moved permanently to "the lake." There Harv volunteered to help blaze the Northland Country Trail (achieving virtual immunity to poison ivy in the process), lay on his dock at midnight to watch the stars dance and thrill to the haunting, throaty discussions of loons, plunge into the frigid waters as early in spring as the heart allowed, fed nuthatches and rose-breasted grosbeaks through the silent snows of winter, read philosophy, poetry and theology, and generally communed in peace with the great outdoors.

The retreat from Bad Medicine in 2011 signaled a reluctant acquiescence to the encroachment of age. Moves to Park Rapids and ultimately Moorhead, MN, found Harv still taking his daily walk or cross-country ski, writing and refining new rounds of poetry, puttering around the shop or garden, and enjoying four generations of family with his bride of 59 years.

Complications following a heart attack ended his life on January 10, 2014, at the age of 85.

Harvey left behind a modest library of writings: his memoirs, a novel, numerous essays, several fascinating diaries and hundreds of poems. He was a sharp observer of people and their follies without condemning them for that frail humanity.

He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Carl and Evelyn (Karlstrom) Johnson; sisters, Dorothy Johnson and Grace Anderson; and his big brother, Earl.

Harvey is survived by his wife, Marlys; his six children, Nancy (Lowell) Einerson of Alexandria, MN; Doug (Helen) Johnson of McIntosh, MN; Sally (Ron) Rutten of Inkom, ID; Barb Johnson and Robert Blake of Austin, TX; Susan (Jon) Wagner of West Fargo, ND; and Phil (Lisa) Johnson of Fargo, ND. He also delighted in 12 grandkids and 7 great-grandchildren.

His was a life well lived!

Visitation for Harvey will be on Tuesday, January 14, 2014, from 5-7 PM, with a Time of Sharing at 6 PM, in Korsmo Funeral Chapel, Moorhead. Memorial Service on Wednesday, January 15, at 11 AM, in First Presbyterian Church, Moorhead.

Online Guestbook: www.korsmofuneralservice.com

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