Gordon Evan Johnson, 77, of HenningPublished 9:05am Friday, March 8, 2013 Updated 11:06am Friday, March 8, 2013
He was born Aug. 19, 1935, in Fergus Falls, the son of Joseph and Emelia (Johnson) Johnson. Gordon grew up in Dane Prairie Township, attending country school at District 43, and then Fergus Falls High School, graduating in 1953.
He attended and graduated from Moorhead State University in 1958. Gordon was a high school English teacher, physical education teacher and coach.
Gordon did his student teaching in Hawley and then did his first year of teaching high school and coaching baseball at Kennedy.
In 1959, he married Jean Knudson of Pelican Rapids. They were married 54 years as of last month. Together they had two children, Michael (deceased) and Kelly.
In August of 1959, Gordon and Jean moved to Barrett where he taught school for four years. He was the head basketball, baseball and track coach in Barrett.
In 1963 he relocated to Eden Valley and continued his career in teaching, adding driver’s education to his resume.
He was the head basketball and baseball coach in Eden Valley. In 1968, Gordon left teaching, moved to Grand Rapids and became an insurance adjustor for State Farm Insurance Co.
Gordon was not happy in this career choice and missed being with kids. In August of 1969, he was employed by Henning High School and finished his teaching career in Henning as a high school English, PE, health, and driver’s education teacher.
He was the head baseball coach, assistant football, and assistant basketball coach in Henning for many years. Anyone who knew Gordy knew his passion was kids and coaching.
Gordon was also employed by the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Dept. from 1971-2001. He mainly worked as a water patrol officer, but also was a jailer, dispatcher and a bailiff for Otter Tail County.
He was very proud of his years of service to the Sheriff’s Dept. He was a wonderful story teller and enjoyed sharing his water patrol experiences with his classroom and it impacted many students on safety and life lessons.
Gordon retired from teaching in Henning in 1992.
He was an avid sportsman. His love was baseball. He played high school, college and town team or Legion baseball during his career.
He was drafted to play for Battle Lake and Ashby during playoffs in the Golden Years of Baseball in Otter Tail County.
A highlight of his life was playing baseball against Roger Maris in the 50’s. He was proud of that and loved to tell people about it.
He loved his many dogs, hunting and fishing, and shooting trap and sporting clays. He was proud that he relearned to shoot left handed after losing his vision in his eye when he was 50, and outshot his buddies sometimes in trap.
He was very passionate about his family, students, and athletes. He spent much of his retirement years attending his grandson’s sporting events and activities. Even after retirement he continued to be a Henning Hornet fan and Eden Valley Eagles fan watching the scores every week.
His love for OTC Bulldogs and Battle Lake Battlers has been what his passion has been in his later years. He was always a loyal Minnesota Twins fan, and even if he was unable to attend the games made sure he listened to the radio and it became part of his weekly routine.
The last year of his life was spent at the Golden Living Center in Henning, and the family would like to extend a thank you to the staff there for taking such good care of Gordon.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Emelia Johnson, son, Michael Johnson, brother, Jean Johnson, and brothers-in-law, Marvin Ellingboe, Kenneth Johnson, Robert Knudson, and Leonard Gruenberg.
Survivors include his wife, Jean (Knudson) of Henning; a daughter, Kelly (David) Erwin of Battle Lake; grandsons, Michael and Matthew Erwin of Battle Lake; a brother, Milton (Marilee) Johnson of Escondido Calif.; sisters, Marge Johnson of St. Paul and Joyce Ellingboe of New Brighton; brothers-in-law, Victor (Karen) Knudson of West Fargo N.D., Jerome (Charlene) Knudson of Maple Grove; sister-in-law, Ruth Gruenberg of Breckenridge; and several nieces and nephews.
Visitation: One hour prior to the service at the church
Memorial Service: 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 20, at Zion Lutheran Church, Amor
Clergy: Rev. Jim Gronbeck
Burial: United Cemetery, Henning
Funeral Home: Olson Funeral Home, Fergus Falls