April 18, 1926 – Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Helen Anna Johnson passed away on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at the Buffalo Hospital. She was 82 years old.
Helen was born on April 18, 1926 in Wayne, Alberta, Canada. She was the daughter of Thorvald and Anna Sorensen and sister to Roger Sorensen. The family of four lived on land they homesteaded near Drumheller, Canada with Thorvald’s brother and wife homesteading next to them. Helen and Roger enjoyed their Uncle Pete and Aunt Amanda who treated them as their own. They went to a small country school which their father moved, literally with his tractor one night, because it was too far to walk from their homestead. Helen learned how to make a solid foundation of love from her parents. They moved from Canada to Iowa, then Wilder, Minnesota and finally settled in Lakefield, Minnesota where Helen and Roger attended country school.
Helen graduated from Lakefield High School in 1944. She considered nursing as a career until she realized that Home Ec. was much more interesting than Latin class. After graduation she went to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to cosmetology school. She returned to Lakefield and operated “Helen’s Beauty Shoppe” for 13 years. During those years Helen met Roy C. Johnson while singing together in the church choir. On June 17, 1951 Helen and Roy were married at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lakefield. She continued to operate her beauty shop until their daughter Sherilyn was born. Helen then took on the role of full time homemaker, making a loving home with the same solid foundation she had learned from her parents. She enjoyed setting a great table with her favorite china and dishes and filling them with great food. She preferred spending time arranging furniture and decorating for holidays over spending time away from home. If there was someone new in church on Sunday morning they would often end up at the table for Sunday dinner baked earlier that morning. In 1966 she began caring for her parents’ needs after her mother had a stroke. She would bring meals, help with cleaning, and go for daily trips the four miles to Grandma and Grandma Sorensen’s house. After her parents passed away she continued to help her brother Roger who still lived at the family farm. Helen and Roy enjoyed their roses and other plantings in their backyard, spending time having coffee and picnics in the “screened-in porch.” They were active members at Bethlehem Lutheran for many years. The yearly summer vacation trips around the U.S. gave way to trips to see Sherilyn at college, then in her jobs in New London and in Montevideo, and finally trips to connect with Sherilyn and Andrew, Amanda and Michael, the next generation’s family of four. Roy and Helen had 45 good years together, truly enjoying their family and friends.
In 1997 Helen moved to Buffalo, Minnesota after her husband Roy and brother Roger passed away. Even though she left many good friends and family in Lakefield she quickly became known as “Grandma Helen” to many in the Buffalo community. She quickly found neighbors, friends, and many people who gave her the helping hands she needed. She was skilled at creating a loving home and caring neighborhood wherever she went. She enjoyed being close to Sherilyn and Andrew and especially Amanda and Michael. She provided a great amount of “grandma care,” made brownies and cupcakes at just the right time, and kept up on their activities, watching as they grew up. Even after it became difficult to move around she still connected with many people through phone calls. Just like her father who moved a school house for his children, Grandma Helen could move mountains, making just about anything happen from her phone. She enjoyed her many conversations with people during the day. When her legs became too weak to carry her at home she spent about five weeks at LakeRidge Care Center for physical therapy. She was transferred to Buffalo Hospital on Monday, February 23 where she gradually became weaker until she peacefully passed away on Wednesday, February 25. She will be missed by all who love her and remembered as a child of God whose actions were filled with faith.
Helen is preceded in death by her parents, husband Roy, and brother Roger. She will be missed by her daughter and son-in-law, Sherilyn and Andrew Burgdorf, grandchildren Amanda and Michael; cousin “who she considered a brother” Vernon (Jean) Berkness of Minnetonka; brothers and sisters-in-laws Esther (Art) Ward of Annandale, Virginia; Adele (Darrel) Hage, Myrt Johnson of Lakefield; Lydia Johnson of Jackson; nieces and nephews; and many friends and neighbors.
Funeral at Zion Lutheran Church, Buffalo MN at 3:00pm Sunday, March 1 with visitation 2 hours prior to the service. Burial at Lakefield cemetery, Lakefield MN on Monday, March 2 at 11:00am with lunch following at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lakefield MN. Worship leaders for the funeral include Pastor Judy Burgett Winzig – presiding pastor; Pastor Harvey Nelson – preaching pastor; Diane Johnson – organist; Jill Starr – pianist; Tracy Hagstrom Durant, Gerry Starr, Carol Moore – soloists; Lowell Johnson, DeWayne Hage, Dave Erickson, Mark Laven, Jay Baago, Jeff Baago – pall bearers; Rob Tripp, Lance Johnson – honorary pall bearers.
In lieu of flowers, memorials to ELCA World Hunger Appeal or local food shelves.