FARGO — Don Johnson, who died Thursday, Oct. 3, will be remembered as a coach who left a lasting legacy in the local golf world.
Johnson, who was 77 years old, was diagnosed with leukemia in August. He died in his home under the care of Hospice of the Red River Valley.
Johnson, who retired last summer, coached boys and girls golf at Shanley for more than 30 years. He led the Deacons girls golf team to three consecutive state titles from 2005 to 2007.
"He loved working with the kids," Shanley athletic director Michael Breker said Thursday. "He loved making them better golfers. He loved making them better people. ... He was a staple here for lots of reasons."
Mark Johnson, Don's son and the head golf pro at the Fargo Country Club, posted this on his Facebook page Thursday.
"Thank you for all the prayers and well wishes for my dad and our family," Mark Johnson wrote. "Don passed early this morning after living an extraordinary life. He fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. He's now in the loving arms of Christ our Savior."
The Shanley Deacons golf teams posted this message Thursday on their official Twitter account.
"We lost Don this morning! I have been at a loss for words. He was such a terrific person and had an impact on so many of us in the F-M area. I am praying for his family. He will be missed. I cherish all the moments I had with Don #WeLoveYou."
Shari McTaggart, who was an assistant for Johnson for three seasons, took over as the Shanley head coach for girls golf after Johnson retired. She said Johnson continued to inspire the Deacons girls golf team after he stepped away.
"He was very impactful," McTaggart said. "When (the team) found out he was sick that became their focal point. Let's stay strong for Don."
Breker said Don Johnson was a beloved figure and it was common for Shanley graduates to want to connect with Johnson even after they had left the school and golf program to thank Johnson for his impact on their lives. Breker also remembers Johnson as a great storyteller.
"Don Johnson was the king of the Don Johnson story," Breker said. "He always had a story and any time you sat down with him it was worth a million bucks."
The Deacons recently won the East Region girls championship and the team had Don Johnson on its mind. Shanley then finished in third place at the Class A state tournament earlier this week.
"I think we are still his team," Shanley senior Julia Wold told The Forum. "We want to make him proud."
McTaggart said Johnson left a lasting legacy.
"He was a great man who loved the game and anybody who met Don knew it," McTaggart said. "He was coaching for the kids to love the game, too."
Arrangements are pending with Wright Funeral Home.