Ralph L. Johnson


Ralph L. Johnson 95 year old resident of Upsala, went to be with his Lord on May 8, 2019 after a short illness. Ralph passed away at the St. Cloud Hospital. A Celebration of Life Service was held Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at Word of Life Church in Upsala with Rev. Wayne Hjermstad officiating. Burial took place in the Gethsemane Lutheran Cemetery in Upsala, MN.
Ralph was born October 28, 1923 to Elizabeth (Lizzie) and John Edwin (Ed) Johnson in Cokato, MN, at the home of his maternal grandparents N.N. and Anna Dokken. He was the eldest of 5 children raised on the farm two miles north of Upsala. Ralph’s father died when he was 12 and he helped his mother Lizzie, continue farming and raising his brother and 3 sisters. He was baptized and confirmed at Gethsemane Lutheran Church. Ralph graduated from Upsala High School in 1941 and attended one year at Minneapolis Business College. With the start of WWII, Ralph and friends from Upsala went to California to work in the Richmond-Kaiser shipyards, welding and painting ship bodies for the war effort. He was enlisted into the U.S. Army infantry and served from 1945- 1947 and honorably discharged as Sergeant. Ralph married Margaret Catherine Bergren January 19, 1946 at Salem Lutheran in Minneapolis. After his army discharge, Ralph and Margaret attended LBI (Lutheran Bible Institute) and then returned to the farm in Upsala. There he and Margaret raised seven children while farming, selling insurance, tax prep, lay minister and working as a paint foreman for Swanson-Youngdale. Ralph was president of the Upsala Coop Telephone Company in 1968, when that small town went from wall crank phones to touch tone phones, the latest technology of that time and also pioneered the first fiber optics. He read his Bible daily, supported many mission causes and served for years with the Gideons International. Ralph was a member of Word of Life in Upsala and enjoyed family camp time at the ARC in Osceola, WI. Margaret died in July of 1995, just short of their 50th wedding anniversary. Ralph married Virginia Helen Willis Miler (Ginny) on December 7, 1996 at Word of Life Lutheran Church. They were able to travel and spend several winters in Florida and were married 22 years.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Ginny, children; Sandra (Jim) Carlson of Staples, Karen (Fran) Koshenina of Upsala, Paul (Nancy) Johnson of Staples, Steven (Brenda) Johnson of Upsala, David (Suzanne) Johnson of Upsala, Ingrid (Stuart) Johnson of Upsala and Gretchen (Jon) Schaumann of Champlin; step-daughter, Connie (Randy) Shy of West Portsmouth, OH; his sisters, Mertha Flaten of Wayzata, Doris Dybing of Lanesboro, and Phyllis Norton of Enterprise, AL; 16 grandchildren and 7 step-grandchildren; total of 30 great-grandchildren and 2 great great-step-grandchildren, all to carry on his legacy of faith and love.
Ralph was preceded in death by his parents, “Ed and Lizzie”, one brother, Glen Johnson, first wife Margaret, and daughter-in-law, Beth Johnson.