JOHNSON, DONALD JOHN, age 91, of Mt. Pleasant, passed away Saturday, March 16, 2019, at Mercy Hospital in Muskegon.
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A Memorial Service will take place Thursday, March 21, 2019, 12 noon at First United Methodist Church in Mt. Pleasant with Pastors Dianne Gordon and Ron Thompson officiating. The family will receive friends on Thursday beginning at 10 a.m. until the time of the service. A luncheon will immediately follow in the fellowship hall. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church or UNICEF.
Don was born on March 4, 1928, in Manistee, the first born son of John and Rose (Holmgren) Johnson. He helped his parents raise a large family of 10 children. As a young man he grew to become 6 feet 7 inches tall and became involved in sports in his hometown of Ludington, playing football and basketball while working a number of jobs during his youth. He went on to graduate from Ludington High School in 1946 and served in the U. S. Army from 1946-1948 in post-World War II Germany. He married Paula Jean Roberts in 1948 and moved to Big Rapids earning his Bachelor’s Degree from Ferris State University in 1953 where he played basketball for four years.
Paula and Don began raising their three children in Big Rapids and he started his 40 year career at MichCon Gas Company. During that time he also helped substitute for his best friend, delivering milk in the very early morning hours. That work ethic and his love of sports were passed on to his children, playing with them and coaching his sons little league baseball teams. In his “spare time” he sang in the Vacationland Chorus.
In 1961 Don was promoted and moved his family to Mt. Pleasant where he became active in many organizations in the community as past president of Isabella County United Way, Lions Club, Woodland Hospice, and the Mt. Pleasant Chamber of Commerce. He was an active member of First United Methodist Church of Mt. Pleasant for 58 years, becoming a Stevens Minister. He also volunteered as a driver for Meals on Wheels for over 20 years. He eventually retired from Mich Con after 40 years as the manager of the Mt. Pleasant office after helping to expand natural gas service to much of outstate Michigan.
He gave a lot to the community and his job, but the most to his immediate and large extended family, and always made those who loved him feel special. He enjoyed playing bridge, golfing and competitive games with friends and family. He became a member of a partnership in a cabin in the Manistee National Forest called the “Gaslite Lodge” in 1962 where he and Paula were able to enjoy and share with friends and family alike. He also assisted his son Jon start his successful apparel business in his and Paula’s garage and helped his son Dave and daughter Leigh pursue their college educations.
Don is survived by his wife, Paula Johnson of over 70 years; his children: David (Elizabeth) Johnson of Spring Lake, Jon (Kathleen) Johnson of Grand Haven, and Leigh (Stephan) Ostrander of Minneapolis; grandchildren Amanda (Darren) Breen of Grand Haven, Jessi Johnson (Dorota, Kelly) of Philadelphia, Jillian (Fineias) Barbutti of Berkley, Kelly Johnson (Joe Aue) of Honor, Benjamin Ostrander and Lisa Ostrander of Salt Lake City; 6 great-grandchildren; Abiah, Anne, Ellie, Grant Barbutti; Anwen, Karys Breen; sister Sandra (Kenneth) Kolb of Montague, sister –in-law Beverly(Norm) Weitkum of Racine Wisconsin, sister –in- law Eunice Johnson of Grand Haven,; several nieces and nephews
Don was preceded in death by his parents; 5 brothers; 3 sisters, and a close cousin.