Bill's Obituary


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


The memorial service

Reverend Carl William (Bill) Johnson Jr. of Williston, Ohio died unexpectedly of a heart attack on Thursday, June 1, 2006 at St. Charles Hospital in Oregon, Ohio. He was born to Carl William Johnson Sr. and Olga Theresa (Petersen) Johnson on May 24, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY. He graduated in 1956 from Luther Seminary, in St. Paul, Minnesota. While at the seminary he met Carolyn Kristin Lyders, his wife of 50 years. They were married in Fremont, Nebraska, on May 26, 1956. 

He was ordained on July 8, 1956, at Bethany Lutheran Church in Brooklyn NY, and began his ministry in Worchester, Massachusetts. In 1961, Rev. Johnson and his family began a four year mission in Tanzania, Africa. Upon his return he began his teaching career at Michigan State University, teaching Swahili, the native language of Tanzania. In 1970 the family moved to Pontiac, Michigan where he continued his teaching career at Oakland University. During this time he also continued his ministry with the Lutheran church, serving as a supply pastor and interim pastor. 

In 1978, Rev. Johnson took a position as chaplain at the Luther Home of Mercy in Williston. He later embarked on a 17 year computer programming career with Exothermics of Toledo. Retiring in 1997, he remained active in the Lutheran church, visiting Tanzania twice, as well as Serbia, as a Synod representative. 

An avid woodworker, he filled his home with beautifully hand crafted furniture and other items. A strong interest in genealogy kept his computer busy, researching his family history back to the fifteenth century and traveling to Sweden and Norway to explore church archives and museums. Bill was very active in the Genealogy by Computer Society, the Scandinavian Club, and St. John Lutheran Church. He loved music, enjoyed playing the piano and singing in the church choir, and sang with the Toledo Choral Society for many years. He was also an avid photographer. 

Bill is survived by his wife Kris; daughter Dorothy L. Johnson of Lansing, Michigan; two sons Mark W. (Jeanne Longmuir) of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and Dr. Peter C. (Caryn Padgett) of Genoa, Ohio; grandchildren Emily and William Johnson; and sister, Eleanor Gravdahl, of Jamestown, Rhode Island. A private burial was held June 3, 2006, in Clay Township Cemetery, Genoa, Ohio. A memorial service will be conducted at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, June 10, at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Williston, Ohio, with a reception following. Services will be handled by Robinson-Walker Funeral Home in Genoa. The family suggests in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church or the Northwestern Ohio Synod Global Mission Fund.


Sunday, June 4, 2006
It was a lovely day for the committal yesterday - perfect weather. The cemetery is a lovely quiet place in the fields east of Genoa, Ohio, 7 miles from here. Caryn's folks (Padgett's) and some other relatives are buried there. We (actually Peter, because he lives in Genoa and he gets a better price) bought 6 plots, 3 back to back, in the newest section of the cemetery, not far from the Padgett's graves. We stayed to watch the whole procedure of lowering the casket (a natural burial without embalming, solid pecan casket in honor of the woodworker), placing the cover over the simple vault, & refilling the hole. Then Dorothy, Jeanne and her mom went and bought some flowering plants to put where the headstone ultimately will be, which won't get placed until next fall or next spring, because they dig and pour the bases for all new headstones only twice a year, and generally give the grave 6 months for the dirt to settle before they pour the base. Many of the headstones in the old part of the cemetery are really tippy in this Great Black Swamp clay, and the cemetery hadn't established rules to control that yet. 

Later in the day some of us went to dig up the grass and plant the flowers. On the way it rained gently while the sun peaked through the clouds in the west, so we saw a gorgeous rainbow in the east, stretching all the way across the open fields from horizon to horizon. It stopped raining soon after we arrived back at the cemetery, so we accomplished the task without getting very wet. In the meanwhile Mark was working on making a simple cross of some teak he found in the workshop with the name and year dates on it to place with the flowers. We'll go back tomorrow and place that. Emmy and Will were all part of this, including the viewing of the body at the hospital on Thursday, and helping to plant and water the flowers. In the meanwhile, Jeanne mowed the lawn, Granny pulled some weeds (wild flowers out of place!), Dot, Mark & Pete started going though some of the workshop & general clutter (of which there is much, including things from Oldemor), Will & Emmy picked strawberries, and I trouble-shooted and fixed stir fry for dinner.

Dot did a yeoman's job of clearing some of the clutter from the living room. And yesterday Mark and I worked on the garage to sweep up and get rid of some stuff, including 3 non-functioning pieces of old equipment that had been replaced. We set them at the curb and they were gone in 5 minutes! We also gathered pictures for a collage - not the easiest task when Bill was usually the photographer. Mark didn't leave here until 11:30 last night. They are wonderful children!

Talking with my son, Peter, who is a doctor, most probably this sudden death was due to an aneurysm. Bill's mother died suddenly at about the same age, probably from a similar cause. As one who is very interested in health and nutrition, and spent a great deal of time fixing the best meals I knew how, I had to wonder about this sudden loss, but perhaps this problem is not principally diet related.