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Esther Johnson

Esther Mae Collison Johnson, 94, passed away Oct. 30, 2009, at Fair Oaks Lodge in Wadena.

Esther was born April 10, 1915, to George and Stella (Porter) Collison, near Sturgis, S.D. on a homestead with a Post Office address of Alkali, S.D. At the young age of 6 months, her family moved to Willow Lakes, S.D., then to Poplar Township, Cass County, Minn., in 1920 until the fall of 1929. They went to Missouri, but due to drought went to near Ponca, Neb. The family returned to Minnesota the next year. She attended school at Garfield and Poplar in Cass County, Minn., and earned a high school equivalency diploma while working at the Nursing Home in Staples.

She married Elmer Johnson on Sept. 15, 1934, at a double wedding at the home of the groom's parents in Poplar Township. Elmer's brother, Herman, and his bride, Hattie Montgomery, were the other half of the wedding party. The groom's uncle, the Rev. Johan Johnson, performed the wedding ceremony, having it performed at the groom's parents was an old Telemark, Norwegian custom. They celebrated a double 50th wedding anniversary at Oylen in 1984.

Esther was a homemaker living on a farm. In her younger years, she raised chickens. In 1947, after her father-in-law's death, her family spent the fall and winter in Washington and Idaho. They worked and lived on a Turkey Farm near Kelso, Wash., and near Potlatch, Idaho, before returning to Minnesota. Esther was always ambitious and worked hard. She helped Elmer harvest June grass seed in the 1950s, harvested wild rice in the 1950s and 60s and help cut pulp for a few years. After a short stint on a turkey farm, she and Elmer moved to Bullard Township in Wadena County in 1968. She ran a greenhouse from 1972-76 at her home and worked as a nurse's aide at the Mary Randolph Nursing Home starting in 1969 and later at the Greater Staples Care Center. She retired in the early 1980s. She was an avid gardener and always had a green thumb for houseplants and flowers. Her other hobbies were reading and genealogy. She enjoyed time with her family and the blessing of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She loved living the country life. In 2007, she moved to assisted living in Staples and Motley, and later to Fair Oaks Nursing Home in Wadena, until the time of her death. She was a member at Swan Valley Lutheran Church in Leader.

Funeral services were held Nov. 3 in the Swan Valley Lutheran Church in Leader with the Rev. Mel Nefsland officiating. Pallbearers were James Johnson, Paul Johnson, Shaun Glinz, Ron Klose, Sam Davidson and Robert Collison. Interment was at West Lyons Cemetery in rural Nimrod. Arrangements were with the Johnson Memorial Home (

Survivors include a son, Darrel; four grandchildren, James (Janice) Johnson of St. Michael, Minn., Paul Johnson of Wyoming, Minn., Michelle (Ron) Klose of Bismarck, N.D., and Julene (Shaun) Glinz of Jamestown, N.D. ; seven great-grandchildren, Logan and Brady Johnson, Ellison and Michael Klose, Kyler, Conner and Anish Glinz; her sister, Vera Westra of rural Verndale; plus many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Elmer Johnson; daughter-in-law, Geri Johnson; parents, George and Stella (Porter) Collison; brothers, Elmer, Cecil, Orville, Harold and George Collison; and two sisters, Lela Johnson and Margaret Gelvin.