Jerry was born on May 19, 1937 at his grandparents’ home in Mudgett Township to Clarence and Eleanor (Nelson) Johnson. He grew up on the family farm in Onamia, MN and graduated from Onamia High School. When Jerry was almost two, he went to stay with his Swedish grandparents, as his sibling was soon to be born. His brother, Jim, was born on Jerry’s 2nd birthday. When Jerry returned home from his grandparents, he was speaking Swedish.
Jerry was united in marriage to Laura Elizabeth Kurtz on Jan 17, 1959. Jerry and Laura were married for 64 years and had two daughters.
Jerry and Laura lived in Onamia on a small farm until they purchased their 300-acre dairy farm in Milaca in 1967. Jerry worked in the Twin Cities and attended evening classes at Dunwoody Institute to become a carpenter. He was employed by Orrin Thompson Homes for over 20 years as a drywaller before he started his own drywall business.
Jerry and Laura milked 72 dairy cows, had several beef cattle and at one time 300 pigs. Farming was Jerry’s true passion, he loved the outdoors and working with his hands. He spent many hours in the tractor doing field work after he arrived home from his drywall job and on weekends. The grandchildren spent many hours with Jerry in the tractor while doing fieldwork. They often took naps on the floor of the cab as they wanted to stay with grandpa, he even kept a pillow for them to lay on. Grandpa even bought them hard hats to wear during field work as it could be quite bumpy.
Jerry and Laura always had an open door, several of Laura’s siblings lived with them through the years. Many nephews and nieces spent summers at the farm. For several years, they also opened their home for foster care in Mille Lacs County.
Jerry loved visiting and telling stories over a cup of coffee, his laugh was contagious, and many found themselves laughing as well. Jerry enjoyed his deer hunting trips each fall in the Black Hills. He enjoyed watching the MN Twins, MN Vikings, and any team his grandchildren were a part of. Jerry made sure to always be in the stands whether the grandchildren were playing locally or in another state. Jerry also raced for Artic Cat and John Deere in the Winnipeg International 500 snowmobile race in the 1970s. Each summer Jerry and Laura enjoyed taking camper trips to various destinations.
Anyone that met Jerry knew his greatest joy was his family, especially his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Jerry’s pride was evident as he spoke of his family to anyone he would meet. Jerry’s infectious laugh, easy smile and gentle demeanor quickly endeared all who met him.
Jerry will be greatly missed by wife Laura; daughters, Cindi (Bart) Naumann and Cathy Johnson; grandchildren, Derrick (Sarah), Dustin (Whitney), Dillon (Courtney), Tara (Alex), Danielle (Shaun); great grandchildren, Sidney, Beatrix, Edgar, and Ellinor; three sisters, Mary Hulsing, Judy Cobb, and Susan (Dennis) Velner; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Karen Kurtz, Rinehart Kurtz, Raymond Kurtz, Shirley (Harold) Huver, Bernie Hanenberg, Diann (Marv) Kurtz, George (Nancy) Kurtz, Deli Stoltman, Gordy (Debbie) Kurtz and Elroy Kurtz; several nieces and nephews.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Eleanor; brother, Jim; nephews, Bobby Johnson and Jay Kurtz; father-in-law, Edward Kurtz; mother-in-law Mildred (Mel) Stoa; brothers-in-law, Georold Hulsing, Alvin Kurtz, Louis Boser, and Arnold Kurtz; sisters-in-laws, Chris Kurtz and Grace Boser and great nephew, Jerry Luke Hulsing.
A celebration of life will be held at the Milaca Legion Club on Saturday, June 17, 2023 from 1 - 5 PM.
“As the colors of sky change and the dust settles in the fields, know that I am near. May the whisper of the breeze, the song of a cardinal, soft footprints of deer always remind you that although you may not see me I am here.”