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Obituary for Reverend James J. Johnson

Reverend James Joseph Johnson, age 85, of Northfield, died peacefully on April 14, 2020, at Reflections End of Life Center surrounded by his family. Jim was born in Pipestone, Minnesota on April 17, 1934, to Joseph Edwin and Anna Florine (DeBall) Johnson. At the age of 14, he left Pipestone to attend Concordia Prep School and College in St. Paul to begin his studies in theology. He earned an Associate Degree there, followed by a bachelor’s degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri in 1956. He later earned three master’s degrees in Divinity, Sacred Theology, and Education. In 1957, […]

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Reverend James Joseph Johnson, age 85, of Northfield, died peacefully on April 14, 2020, at Reflections End of Life Center surrounded by his family.

Jim was born in Pipestone, Minnesota on April 17, 1934, to Joseph Edwin and Anna Florine (DeBall) Johnson. At the age of 14, he left Pipestone to attend Concordia Prep School and College in St. Paul to begin his studies in theology. He earned an Associate Degree there, followed by a bachelor’s degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri in 1956. He later earned three master’s degrees in Divinity, Sacred Theology, and Education. In 1957, Jim married Barbara Hensley. Although they later divorced in 1988, the couple had four daughters.

In 1959, Jim and his family traveled to the Philippines where they spent seventeen years as Lutheran missionaries. At a very young age, Jim oversaw the fundraising, construction, growth and pastoring of Ascension Lutheran Church and congregation in Cebu City. He spent five years as professor in the Philippine Lutheran Theological Seminary in Baguio City. He served as vice president of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines and was active as a counselor and trainer in the field of mental health. He felt particular gratification in helping raise funds for cleft lip/palate repair.

In 1976, Jim and his family returned to the US, settling in Boulder, Colorado. Jim also lived for a time in Colorado Springs and the Phoenix area. During these years, he was active in family counseling for adoptions, primarily of Filipino children. He also sold insurance for AAL, and continued his lifelong hobby of collecting, selling, and trading world coins and artifacts.

In 1999, Jim became reacquainted with his wife, Margaret Spomer Johnson at a Concordia University reunion, and they were married in 2000. They eventually settled back in Minnesota and spent their retirement years traveling, hosting many family gatherings, and attending the music and sporting events of their grandchildren. Jim also had time to enjoy his other lifelong hobby, writing. He wrote poetry and spent hours researching and working on his historical fiction novel, “Dos Mundos” based on a Spanish coin.

Jim was known for his sympathetic ear and counseling to many, for his quiet humor, his love of family and fellowship, and his desire to give of his time and talents to those less fortunate. He had a strong faith.

Jim is survived by his wife Margaret; four daughters Cindy Johnson of Lilydale, Pamela Johnson of Northfield, Kim (Tom) Stever of Albuquerque, Kristen (Rob MacIntosh) Walker of Scottsdale, and two stepdaughters Kristen (Mark) Stapleton of the Chicago area and Judy (Scott) Reynolds of Andover. He is also survived by 14 grandchildren and step-grandchildren Garrett (Burcum), Caitlin, and Daniel Remes, Juliana O’Callaghan, Erin and Brenna Stever, Carson and Colton Walker, Kathryn (Brady) Johnson, John, Elizabeth, and Dan Reynolds, Luke (Kelly) Stapleton, and Kelly Llanos. He is also survived by three step-great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. Jim is survived by his brother Dennis (Inez) of Willmar. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Dale and a nephew and niece.

Services will be held at Bierman Funeral Home, 1316 Division St S. in Northfield, Minnesota at a future date. The time will be published two weeks prior to the event on our website. The family would like to thank the staff of the Cottage on Forest and Reflections End of Life Center on the Three Links Campus in Northfield. Memorials are preferred to With God’s Little Ones at wglo.org. Arrangements by Bierman Funeral Home and Crematory. biermanfuneralhome.com.

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3 Comments

  1. Kim Faulkner Kirk

    I remember “uncle” Jim from his years in the Philippines. What a kind, gentle and handsome man he was. My dad and he had a bit of a bromance going that stood the test of time. I imagine them enjoying seeing each other again today. My love to my sister friends, Cindy, Pam, Kim and Kristen.

    Reply
    • Cindy Johnson

      Thank you, Kim! We have such fond memories of your family and the times we had together.

      Reply
  2. Kathy Bode

    Jim was very much a part of our family-thru prep school for Jim and Dick Bode, thru the Philippine years and on until now they both are in Heaven with our Lord. Their friendship ran deep. They loved mission work and did an excellent job in their many assignments. I am convinced that God chose them specifically for that purpose.
    My deepest thoughts and prayers are with all the family. Thank you for taking such good care of our brother in Christ during his waning years.
    Kathy Bode

    Reply

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