Cover photo for Merl Johnson's Obituary
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1918 Merl 2015

Merl Johnson

February 22, 1918 — February 8, 2015

Merl Johnson, 96 of Barrett died Sunday, February 8, 2015 at the Barrett Care Center. Merl Sylvester Johnson was born on February 22, 1918 in Sanford Township by Thorsborg, rural Elbow Lake, Minnesota. He was the son of Arthur and Jensine (Flatness) Johnson. Merl was baptized and confirmed in what is now the Bethlehem West Elbow Lutheran Church. He received his 8th grade diploma from District 22 School in Thorsborg, rural Elbow Lake.

In 1941, Merl volunteered for the draft, serving with the US Army in England, with the 1976 Quartermaster Truck Company during World War II. Merl and Dames Steinlicht were married on July 15, 1951 at the Steinlicht home in Barrett. After their marriage they farmed in Sanford Township, raising wheat, alfalfa and soybeans. In 1994 they moved to Elbow Lake where Merl continued to work on their farm.

Merl spent much of his free time before he was married roller skating. He managed the rink in Barrett for a time and would travel to rinks in Alexandria, Glenwood and Morris with friends. Shortly after his marriage, Merl and Dames took a road trip to look up many of his army buddies. This led to biennial reunions of the 1976 Truck Company. These reunions were an opportunity for travel and adventure with his family, which he greatly enjoyed. Merl loved farming. He spent hours working in the shop on machinery, shingling and painting, maintaining and improving the farmstead and fields. His work ethic was an inspiration to his family and when he was no longer farming, he continued to work. He was still mowing lawn last summer at the age of 96. Hunting was another passion for Merl. He had been awarded medals for excellence in marksmanship in the military, he had an extensive gun collection, and he was very active in the Elbow Lake Rifle & Pistol Club that would compete at trap and target shooting against clubs from other towns. He went on many hunting trips to International Falls and later in life to Circle Montana with local friends. Merl loved snow, and wore his 'Tenk Sno' button as soon as harvest was over. He helped organize the Elbow Lake Snowmobile Club and lead groups on trips throughout Minnesota. Some were day trips to a bar or casino. Others were weekend trips of a greater distance; most notably, the trip from Elbow lake to Baudette. He was still snowmobiling in his early nineties.

Throughout his life, he loved to spend time with his friends. Even in busy times, Merl would go to Aamot and Ellingson Implement to hang out with friends on the bench in the store window and then go across the street to the hotel for coffee. When the hotel closed they continued to meet at the café for local gossip, farm business, politics, economics and much laughter. Merl was known by all for his patient and kind nature. He is survived by his wife Dames; daughter, Mary (William) Tradewell of Minnetonka; son, Jay (Betty) Johnson of Elbow Lake; five grandchildren, Pauline (Langston Stewart) Tradewell, Molly Tradewell, Lesli Johnson, Mitchell (Rowena Sace) Johnson and Leah (Rahul) Dhuria; sister-in-law Noreen Johnson of Alexandria; and numerous relatves and friends. Merl was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur and Jensine Johnson; an infant daughter; brother Dwain Johnson and a sister; Margaret Munson. Funeral Service: 2:00pm, Friday, February 13, 2015 at the Bethlehem West Elbow Lutheran Church in Elbow Lake. Visitation: 4 to 7pm Thursday at the Erickson-Smith Funeral Home in Elbow Lake and one hour prior to the service at the church. Clergy: Rev. Scott Ruud Military Honors: Carl A Hanson American Legion Post #321, Elbow Lake Funeral Home: Erickson-Smith of Elbow Lake Condolences:
Merl Johnson Folder

Previous Events

Thursday, February 12, 2015
4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Erickson-Smith Funeral Home - Elbow Lake

116 1st Street NE
Elbow Lake, MN 56531

Visitation will resume at 1PM, Friday, February 13, at Bethlehem West Elbow Lake Lutheran Church, Elbow Lake.

Friday, February 13, 2015
2:00 PM
Bethlehem-West Elbow Lake Lutheran Church

11 2nd Ave. SE
Elbow Lake, MN 56531

With visitation one hour prior to the service at the church.

Friday, February 13, 2015
Union Cemetery

Hwy 79 E
Elbow Lake, MN 56531

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Merl Johnson, please visit our flower store.


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