Johnson touched many lives in FFPublished 11:02am Thursday, April 12, 2012
More than 500 people attended Gordy Johnson’s funeral Tuesday morning at Augustana Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls. That’s a testament to the many lives he touched. Johnson, 72, died Thursday, April 5.
“Gordy loved being around people,” said his nephew, Darren Johnson. “People always found him to be friendly and a person who had a lot of enthusiasm. He was one of a kind.”
Johnson grew up on the family farm in Orwell Township, and graduated from Fergus Falls High School in 1958. He participated in football and wrestling while in high school and college, and was an FFA and 4-H member.
“I really got to know Gordy when our kids were involved with 4-H,” said Augustana Church member Jerry Peterson. “Gordy was a big contributor to many organizations.”
Johnson was on the Otter football team, as a junior in the fall of 1956, when Fergus Falls was unbeaten. He cherished being able to play alongside Fergus athletes such as Chuck Weiss, Jack Halland, Roger Sinner and others. They played under legendary Otter football coach Norm Galloway.
He graduated from FFHS in 1958 and attended NDSU in Fargo, obtaining a degree in Agriculture in 1962. While at NDSU he was with the ROTC, receiving his commission as a Captain. Johnson became the Captain Company Commander of the Army Reserves in Fergus Falls.
Johnson and his wife, Cynthia, took over a family farm in 1965, continuing the dairy operation until selling their dairy herd in 2007. They received numerous awards for their farming and dairy operations.
In the 1990s the couple built their home on West Battle Lake. They were happy, however, to make a 25-mile drive to Fergus Falls to attend many Otter sporting events, including football, volleyball and basketball.
“It seems like they always were in the Gold Gym for a sporting event,” said Otter coach Renee Erickson who attended the wake for Johnson on Monday evening. “It’s amazing to see all of the people here. Gordy was a great man.”
The Johnsons were active in the school activities of their son and three daughters.
Denise Stock DeMartelaere, who grew up near the Johnsons in Orwell Township, was in 4-H with Todd Johnson, son of Gordy and Cynthia. Today, Todd and his wife, Dacia, have children in activities with the children of Denise and Scott DeMartelaere.
The Johnsons cherished family time with their children and grandchidlren. Gordy was a lifelong active member of Augustana Lutheran Church and served as a board member of the West Otter Tail County Fair.
“Gordy loved being on the fair board, and we loved having him as a fellow member,” said long-time fair board member Willis Roehl. “Every time there was a toilet to fix, we’d send Gordy. He took a lot of kidding but always got the job done.”
Roehl said that Gordy and Cynthia both had a lot of respect from farmers, in both the Carlisle and Orwell Dam areas.
Love of family is what Curt and Ann Rotto will remember most about Gordy Johnson, in addition to community support and being a backbone at Augustana Lutheran Church.
The Rev. Phil Tobin, who conducted the funeral service at Augustana Lutheran, also praised Johnson for his positive impact on the community. Burial was at South Friborg Cemetery, rural Carlisle.