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Johnsons named 2022 WDC Homecoming parade grand marshals

Both have been active, vital parts of the community for decades.

Patty and Jon Johnson.JPG
Patty and Jon Johnson were chosen as the grand marshals of the 2022 Wadena-Deer Creek Homecoming Parade.
Contributed photo
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WADENA — Kicking off the 2022 Wadena-Deer Creek Homecoming parade at 2 p.m., Friday, Sept. 30, are two people who've been giving to the community for many years. Jon and Patty Johnson were announced as grand marshals earlier this week.
"Jon and Patty have been a very big part of our community," said WDC Activities Director/Dean of Students Norm Gallant. "They both are active volunteers and have been vital in so many of the great things that have happened in Wadena over the years. Both are huge advocates and positive role models for the school and our students. We are so very thankful for their role in our community!”

“We are humbled by this kind gesture,” Jon stated when informed that they had been chosen as Grand Marshals. “I have such fond memories of growing up in Wadena and making so many wonderful and supportive friends. It will always have a special place in my heart.”

“We were so surprised to receive this honor,” Patty added.

See who the senior candidates are.

Jon's background

Jon graduated from Wadena High School in 1973. He graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead with a degree in biology in 1977 and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Mortuary Science in 1978.

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“We moved to Wadena in the fall of 1978 and began working with my father at the Johnson Memorial Home,” Jon explained. “My brother, Henry, and I later purchased the business from our father. We both retired in 2012.”

Jon was active in the Minnesota Funeral Directors Association, serving on the board as a representative of our district. He was a volunteer member of the Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center out of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis for 15 years and was a founding member of the Minnesota Foundation for Children, which provides camps and support for grieving children.

“Professionally, I considered it such an honor to be trusted with assisting families through the difficult journey a death brings to them,” Jon stated. “I still think of this daily.”

Jon has also been very involved on a local level.

“I have been a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church since moving to Wadena at the age of 2, Jon explained. “I have sung in the church choir since I was 15. I served on various committees and on the church council. Both of our kids, Katie and Aaron, were baptized and confirmed at Immanuel.”

Jon joined the Wadena Lions Club and has been a member for 42 years.

He was a volunteer football coach for 15 years working with all levels, but especially with the junior high teams. Recently, he has been working as a football official.

“Don Bottemiller, a friend since I was in junior high, once told me that community service is the price you pay for living in the community,” Jon said. “Both my wife, Patty, and I have lived our lives here based on that belief.”

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Patty's background

Patty is a Fargo-Moorhead native, a graduate of the Moorhead school system and Moorhead State College.

“Jon and I met when we worked at the same store during our college years,” Patty said. “We both graduated (he from Concordia) in 1977 and were married less than a month later.”

Their daughter Kate was born in 1979 and son Aaron arrived in 1981.

“They were blessed with wonderful teachers, coaches and friends at WDC,” Patty stated.

Kate graduated in 1998; Aaron in 2000.

Grand Marshals of the past
Jackson is a staunch supporter of the Wadena-Deer Creek School and ever present part of Wolverine activities. Cheer her on as she leads the parade set to start at 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 1.

Patty worked part-time as a substitute teacher in the area until accepting the position of Communications Director at Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative in 1989.

“The cooperative celebrated its 50th anniversary soon after I started and its 75th just before I retired in 2015,” Patty explained. “Bookends to a rewarding career.”

Patty’s volunteerism in Wadena began at Immanuel Lutheran Church – as a Sunday School teacher, Primary Choir director, Parish Education director and serving on the Church Council in several positions, including president in 2011.

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“I’ve been a choir member at Immanuel for nearly 40 years, sitting in the alto section next to Liz Miller all those years,” Patty said.

Since retiring, Patty has enjoyed helping Kathy Roisum beautify the Whitetail Run Golf Course by weeding, mulching, planting flowers and the like, as needed.

“Our course is beautifully maintained by Joe Peluso and his crew,” Patty added. “It’s a great community asset. It was rewarding too, to help fundraise and promote the refurbishing of the clubhouse kitchen in 2019.

I’ve also been fortunate to help Mary Ann Hagen and her team at the Wadena Food Shelf.”

Patty exclaimed, “Working together with positive people who just want to make a difference is a wonderful thing!”

Patty and Jon recently sold their home in Wadena and are moving to Chaska to be closer to family.

Daughter Kate and her husband Steve have three boys, ages 8, 10 and 18. They live in Chaska.

Son Aaron, who for several years was the WDC Technology Director, is single and he also lives and works in Chaska.

“We plan to join our family in that area soon,” Patty said. “Which makes this a bittersweet time for both of us.”

“We are not saying goodbye,” Jon explained. “It will just be a long pause between conversations.”

“We are so sad to be leaving this wonderful community after all these years,” Patty said. “But we are also looking ahead to spending time with our kids and grandkids. We’re confident that we’ll be coming ‘up north’ to visit friends and for various events that mean so much to us.

One of those events will be the WDC 2022 Homecoming Parade on Friday, September 30. The Wadena-Deer Creek School District gives a big thank you to the Johnsons for their work in investing in their community.

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