Herbert "Herb" L. Johnson, 85, of Cloquet, Minn., passed away Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, at Essentia Health Care in Duluth, Minn., surrounded by his family. He was born Nov. 7, 1926, in Mahtowa, Minn., to Kent and Florence (Thompson) Johnson and graduated from Cloquet High School in 1944. He proudly served his country in the United States Navy from 1944-1946. He attended Duluth Junior College from 1946-1947, and was united in marriage to Eunice Joseph on Feb. 8, 1947, in Superior, Wis.
Herb worked for the Cloquet Fire Department from 1948 until his retirement as Fire Chief in 1986. During his years on the fire department he served as secretary treasurer for the Firefighters Union. He was instrumental in converting the firemen's retirement to PERA. While working as fireman, Herb worked a variety of jobs: selling real estate, building and remodeling homes with Bob Fuller, and working at Stewart's Furniture. He was a true handyman, a skilled electrician, plumber and carpenter. He was involved in using these skills throughout his life and was always willing to help whenever someone needed handyman help.
As a member of the Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Herb used these skills in volunteer work at the parish, rectory and the convent. In the early 1990s, he and Eunice worked with Father Walsh to raise money for the Queen of Peace addition and he coordinated the work with the contractors and the church. He also was a member of the church's Building and Grounds committee for years. He enjoyed being a eucharistic minister and lector, and volunteered to lector for funerals. Herb was active in organizing the church's softball team and was active in the Cloquet area church softball league. He was active in teaching religion to students during Friday morning release time. He and Eunice planted and maintained the flower beds in the courtyard at the church for several years and he also served on the church council.
One of the most important activities Herb was involved in was the Power Lunch reading program at Washington School. He enjoyed helping children read for over 20 years.
Herb was very active in local DFL politics for many years. He was elected to the Cloquet City Council in 1990 and was reelected every four years through 2006. He served 20 years as a member of the City Council. Herb decided not to run in the 2010 election. While on the council, he was appointed representative to the WLSSD Board and enjoyed this a great deal and took a lot of pride in representing Cloquet on this board. He was also involved in the city and county recycling efforts.
Herb worked diligently for years to find a home for the Cloquet Senior Center when they moved from the Seventh Street location. He was on the Senior Center Advisory Board and served on the boards for the Salvation Army, Pinewood Learning Center and Suncrest Assisted Living.
Herb was an honorary life member of the Knights of Columbus and played on the Knights' over-30 softball league until he was in his 60s. He served as a guardian ad litem for the Carlton County Court system for over 10 years, hoping to better the lives of children who were affected by divorce. Herb was a T-ball coach, Boy Scout volunteer, played volleyball, Meals on Wheels volunteer and a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. Football was his first love and he was a true Viking fan - when they were winning. In 1996, Herb was a winner of the "Success over Sixty Leadership Award" presented by Options North. He was an avid downhill skier, buying a Spirit Mountain season ski pass every year until he was in his 70s. He was also on the Duluth Courage Center ski team. Herb always said his volunteer work was "a labor of love."
One of Herb's greatest joys was bicycle riding with his great-grandson, Tyler. They were able to ride even this past summer. Another one of his greatest joys was his 4-month-old great-grandson, Logan.
Herb was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Laverne Everett Johnson.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Eunice; daughter, LeaAnn (Don) Walsh of Cloquet; granddaughters, Shelly Wickstrom and Jodi Lunke (Brett Carlson), both of Cloquet; great-grandchildren, Tyler Lunke and Logan Carlson of Cloquet; brother, Kent (Jeanne) Johnson of Brainerd, Minn., Charles (Pat) Johnson of Cloquet, and Don (Julie) Johnson of Mahtowa, Minn.; sister-in-law, Lois Johnson of Cloquet; step-grandchildren, Pat (Michele) Walsh, Robin (Tom) O'Neill, Heather (Mark) Anderson and Lori Walsh; step-great-grandchildren, Brittany (Matt) McCullough, Brooke and Bryce Bottila, Taylor and Tanner Anderson, Morgan and Jacob Walsh; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, at Nelson Funeral Care in Cloquet with a Rosary Service at 6:30 p.m. led by the members of Bishop Welch Council of the Knights of Columbus. The visitation will resume Wednesday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Cloquet. Interment service is at New Calvary Cemetery, with military honors presented by the Cloquet Combined Honor Guard, followed by a luncheon in the church social hall.
The family has selected Nelson Funeral Care of Cloquet to assist them with arrangements. See the online guest book at www.nelsonfuneralcare.net.
October 4, 2012 ~ Pine Journal, Cloquet, Minn.
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