Funeral services for Dennis Johnson of Morris, MN will be a private service. Visitation will be Friday, August 28, 2020 from 5 to 7 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Morris. Burial will be at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 29th at Tordenskjold Free Lutheran Cemetery near Underwood. Lunch will be served at the cemetery following the burial, and everyone is encouraged to bring a chair.
Born September 20, 1940 at the Wright Memorial Hospital in Fergus Falls, Dennis Gordon Johnson was raised on an 80 acre dairy farm with purebred Jersey cattle by Elmer Gordon Johnson and Mary Evelyn (Muckala) Johnson in Tordenskjold Township, Ottertail County, Minnesota. Siblings are Stuart Dale, Marilee Juneal (Bergerson), Brian Elliot, and Virginia Rae (Carlson). The atmosphere reflected hard work and strong social conscience. He attended rural school district 95 for 8 years. It was an idyllic experience. The family were members of Tordenskjold Lutheran Free Church which provided Sunday school, worship, confirmation and community.
He attended West Central School of Agriculture (WCSA) in Morris from 1953 – 58 before enrolling in the Dairy Science program at NDSU in Fargo, ND. He graduated and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry in 1962. To his great good fortune he met and fell in love with Carole Arlene Petersen of Grenora, ND who he pursued with determination. He worked his way through college by making butter at the Cass Clay Creamery. Needed human relations skills were developed by membership in Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.
Carole and Dennis were married December 27, 1964 in Havre, MT upon completion of 2 years active duty with the 39th Mechanized Infantry Battalion. They moved to St Paul for the next three years. Carole marketed textiles and taught Home Economics at Central High, St. Paul as Dennis started graduate school at the University of Minnesota in Dairy Cattle Breeding. His Masters work was a study of the inheritance of fertility in dairy cows and PhD dissertation research evaluated genetic change in Holstein cattle from DHIA records.
In 1968 Dennis was appointed Dairy Scientist at the West Central School and Experiment Station Morris and Carole accepted a position teaching Home Economics at Hancock High School. In 1969 David Johannes was born followed by Mary Ellyn in 1972. A dairy scientist is responsible for applied research in dairy production and outreach education on dairy production. His approach was unusual in deemphasizing journal publication with more direct farmer outreach. Work included introduction of total mixed rations, use of waste milk in calf diets, forage preservation, organic production, grazing systems, and fertility methods. The projects led to travel to Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Denmark, Uruguay. Norway, France and Germany. His efforts regarding world hunger were associated with nearly 20 years as synod coordinator for the ELCA hunger appeal. That included travel to Kenya, Tanzania, Israel, Bolivia, Peru and South Africa. Dennis was deeply committed to serving his community, some of the many included First Lutheran Church in Morris, MN, the Land Stewardship Committee and the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah Iowa where he served on the board.
Dennis’ table prayer always ended with these words: “Blessed be God who is our bread, may all the world be clothed and fed.”
In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the ELCA World Hunger, the Land Stewardship Project, First Lutheran Church, Morris, MN or Vesterheim Museum, Decorah, IA.
Pedersen Funeral Home in Morris is in charge of the arrangements. To send condolences to the family please visit www.pedersefh.com.