Stuart Arthur Johnson

Stuart Arthur Johnson, 90, passed away in Traverse City, Mich. on June 10, 2012.

Stuart was born on May 20, 1922, in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. He was the fifth child of Cornelius and Jean (Murray) Johnson. At the age of four he moved with his parents and siblings to the family farm established in 1885 just north of Rushville, Neb. For the next 82 years he was involved with both working and running the farm; farming was a great joy of his life.

In 1940, he graduated from high school and formally began working with his parents in the daily operations of the family farm. In October of 1943, he married his school classmate Wilma Day. They were blessed with two children, Stuart Allen and Barbara Jean. In 1961, he joined his brother and mentor Bennett to work at Stockmen’s National Bank in Rushville, all the while continuing to participate with the farming operation on evenings and weekends. He retired from Stockmen’s in 1985, but continued helping with the farm. In the 1990’s, he was busy seeding native grass seeds in the community in compliance with the government’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP); when done he had seeded 40,000 acres.

In 1943, Stuart traveled to Omaha, Neb. to enlist in the army. Although registered in the draft and classified a desirable alien, his enlistment was rejected because he was not a US citizen. After finally receiving his citizenship papers he joined the US Army in April, 1945. He served until the end of the war before returning home.

Stuart had other business ventures as well. In the mid 1950’s, he ventured into the automotive business, operating a Ford dealership in Lusk, Wyo. with his brothers Bennett and Murray. This turned out to be a short term venture for them and Stuart’s love of life as a farmer brought him back to Rushville to once again work the family farm.

In early 2000, Wilma’s health began to fail and Stuart devoted all his time and energy to her care until she passed away in September of 2006. In 2009, he moved to Traverse City, Mich. where he kept active with grandchildren and great grandchildren, including helping them to start their first vegetable garden. He also baked bread on a nearly daily basis in order to keep up with growing demand from family and friends. He greatly enjoyed his weekly phone calls with his siblings and daily e-mail communications with many other friends and family; he was always ready to sit for a quick visit.

He was a member of the Masonic Lodge in Rushville and served in all the offices, including Worshipful Master. He was appointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska as an assistant Grand Custodian and received his 60th year membership pin in 2008. He was also a member of the Scottish Rite for over 50 years.

Wood working was another passion of Stuart’s. He completed much of the work himself when building his own home, helped in remodeling his parent’s home, and finished numerous projects for his children’s homes. He made several pieces of furniture, cabinets and completed many other unique wood working projects.

Survivors include his two children: Stuart Allen (Shirley) Johnson, Rushville, and Barbara Jean (Rod) Michaelson, Traverse City, Mich. Grandchildren: Sharlyn (Robb) Zapp, Phoenix, Ariz., Kendra (Marc) Burkholder, Traverse City, Mich. and Stuart Aaron (Beth) Johnson, Seattle, Wash. Stuart is survived by eight great grandchildren, one sibling, Evaline Norman, Crawford, Neb. and a sister-in-law Ruth Johnson, Rapid City, S.D.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Murray and Bennett, sister Mary Sanderson, three sisters-in-law and five brothers-in-law.

A Celebration of Life service was held at Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City, Mich. on June 15 at 11:00 a.m., and at the United Methodist Church in Rushville at a future date. Inurnment will be in the Fairview Cemetery in Rushville, next to Wilma, the love of his life.

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The family is being served by the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services.

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