A Memorial Service will be held at Messiah Lutheran Church, Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 2pm. Masks are encouraged. In lieu of flowers, memorials are requested to his favorite charities: Roseau Co. Historical Society, Luther Seminary Scholarships for seminarians, or the Roseau Area Food Shelf.
Thomas Neal Johnson “Neal”, son of Tauno Nickolas and Thilda (Solom) Johnson was born July 19, 1939 and entered his heavenly home February 4, 2021.
He was born and raised in Roseau, Minnesota where he graduated from High School in 1957. His first year of college was at Harvard College, Boston MA where he played freshman hockey and baseball. He then transferred to the University of Minnesota and later completed his education at Moorhead State College, Moorhead MN. He graduated with high honors and was initiated into Kappa Delta Pi, international honor society.
He started his insurance career working for Crawford and Co. in Atlanta, GA. Three years later he moved back to Minnesota and was with VanWagenen Company in Minneapolis for 18 years.
He and LaVonne Rognlie Appelbaum were married June 19, 1982 and moved back to Roseau where Neal became a Real Estate Broker opening North Border Realty. Upon retirement he and LaVonne purchased a home in Green Valley AZ where they spent fifteen winters.
Neal was a talented athlete lettering in five sports his senior year in high school; football, hockey, baseball, golf and track. He was selected for The All-State Hockey Team that year. He was also instrumental in starting the high school boy’s baseball team.
During the time he was at the U of M he played hockey for the U.S. Hockey Team, a semi-professional league, where he played with several future North Star Hockey players.
While at Moorhead State he started the college hockey team, the Dragons, for which he was the Head Coach.
Neal loved to hunt Snow Geese in Western Manitoba and was an avid fisherman. He purchased a cabin on Flag Island on Lake of the Woods where he and LaVonne spent many summers fishing for walleye. Neal also loved classical music and was an avid reader of history and economics; remembering everything he read.
He became an avid genealogist tracing his family back to the 1800’s and LaVonne’s to the 1500’s. He helped many friends do the same and also served on the board of the Roseau County Historical Society.
He was thrilled when LaVonne’s oldest daughter gave birth to their first grandchild. Never having children of his own he said, “There is no such thing as a step-grandchild, that baby is my grandchild!” as were they all!!!
He became a member of Desert Hills Lutheran Church in Green Valley and served on the board of the DHLC Foundation where he was responsible for the Gifting Committee.
Neal will always be remembered as a kind, gentle, thoughtful, caring, generous man with a keen intellect, an even keeled demeanor, an ever present friendly smile and a man of strong Christian Faith. He is a great loss to family, church and community.
Neal was preceded in death by his parents, granddaughter Claire Kenyon and brother-in-law Robert Lunde. He is survived by his wife, sisters Carolyn Lunde and Judith (Ardell) Magnusson, brother David (Bonnie), special nephew Erik Magnusson, stepdaughters Elizabeth Bakken, Michele (Tom) Kenyon and Nicole Thurman, grandchildren Jacqueline, Brittany, Tanner, Kelsey, Courtney and Andrew, great-grandchildren Asher, Harlow, Sawyer, Grayson and Arlo, cousins, nieces & nephews.
A Memorial Service will be held at Messiah Lutheran Church, Saturday, June 5, 2pm. Masks will be required. In lieu of flowers, memorials are requested to his favorite charities: Roseau Co. Historical Society, Luther Seminary Scholarships for seminarians, or the Roseau Area Food Shelf.
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