Rodney Adolph Johnson, 79, of rural Wheelock, N.D., passed away Tuesday, July 2, 2019 at Bethel Lutheran Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Williston.
Born September 28, 1939 to Adolph and Esther (Siverson) Johnson in McIntosh, Minn., Rod was raised on the family farm south of Wheelock, where his grandparents homesteaded in the early 1900’s. He graduated from Epping High School in 1957 and went on to attend UND Williston and UND in Grand Forks, for one year each. He worked as a surveyor for the State Highway Department and for Webster, Foster and Weston before enlisting with the US Army in 1963. After basic training, he was stationed at Presidio, Calif., where he served in the Honor Guard. Rod was discharged in 1965 and returned home to his surveyor position. In 1976, he dedicated himself full time to the family farm. He was very meticulous on record keeping (perfect penmanship), maintaining equipment, seeding and harvest.
A humble and patient man, Rod had a quiet passion for his community, generously serving and supporting it over the years. He was a longtime member of Wheelock and Epping Lutheran Churches and a past council member. He served as the sexton of Wheelock Cemetery. He was a member of the Elks Club and a volunteer for the Epping Rural Fire Department. He served as a Farmers Union delegate and attended many conventions. He participated on boards for the Epping Oil Station and the Buffalo Trails Museum. In 2014, Rod was chosen as Grand Marshall to lead the Epping Buffalo Trails Day parade. Rod was a past clerk/treasurer for Brooklyn Township. For his high standards of dedication and ability as a township officer he received the Grassroots Leadership Award in 2017. He retired in 2019 from the Brooklyn Township.
He was a serious pinochle player and enjoyed card games at the Elks and the Buffalo Inn Café, as well as at family holiday gatherings. He closely followed local sports and also enjoyed attending the games and activities of his nephews and nieces when they were kids and more recently, his great-nephews and great-niece. He was a regular diner at the Buffalo Inn in Epping and Lonnie’s Roadhouse Café in Williston.
As of late, Rod enjoyed agricultural tours to Australia, Hawaii and most recently, a trip to Brazil with his sister Emily in February 2019.
In an effort to “slow down,” Rod moved into “town,” to Williston, in the fall of 2017. Despite feeling unwell due to cancer and treatment, he helped unload trucks during the harvest of 2018. His ambition, optimism and bright smile were still there, however, to greet the trucks as they pulled up to the auger. Through his painful battle with cancer, Rod always looked at the bright side, and found the good in everything. He will sincerely be missed this fall during harvest, as well as forever and always by family who loved him dearly, and anyone lucky enough to call him their friend.
Rodney is survived by brother, M. Keith, rural Wheelock; sister, Emily Darigan, West Chester, Penn.; nephews, Brian (Erin) Johnson, rural Wheelock, Bruce (Amanda) Johnson, rural Williston and Luke Darigan (Jenn Friberg), Philadelphia, Penn.; nieces, Tracey (Thad) Caldwell, Rapid City, S.D., Kendra Darigan, Philadelphia, Penn. and Halley Darigan (Karim Amara), Oakland, Calif.; great-nephews, Jace Caldwell and Brayden Johnson; great-nieces, Addyson Johnson and Charley Johnson and special “aunt” Arline Larson, Williston.
He was preceded in death by his parents and sister-in-law, Barbara Johnson.
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