Audrey B. Johnson, 88, Aitkin, passed away Saturday, June 19, 2021 after a brief stay in hospice care at St. Luke’s Hospital, Duluth, and Aitkin Health Services, Aitkin.
Audrey was born June 13, 1933 in St. Paul to William “Bill” and Clara “Lucille” (Tessmer) Van Kleek. She was the second youngest of six children and she grew up on St. Paul’s West Side, where she attended public schools and graduated from Humboldt High School in 1951. She continued her education at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College. Audrey met her husband Curt on a blind date during the early fall of 1954. They were engaged just before Christmas that same year and were married in St. Paul on May 7, 1955. Audrey and Curt bought their first home in North St. Paul shortly before they were married and moved in right after the honeymoon. Their only child, Gary, was born in September of 1957. Audrey and Curt lived in that home until 1989 when they achieved a long term dream of building their retirement lake home on the family property (the former Echo Inn Resort purchased by Curt’s parents in 1949) on Big Pine Lake. Prior to Gary’s birth, Audrey worked as a stenographer (yup... dictation, shorthand, typing, mimeographing, filing and mail) at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office and later at 3M. She also did day care in her home for the two young daughters of a friend who was a school teacher. Shortly before Gary started college, Audrey got a job as a school food service worker (yup... “Lunch Lady”) at John Glenn Junior High School. Audrey loved the kids and that job and kept it for 15 years. She retired from ISD #622 in June of 1989.
Audrey was a giver and a servant of the Lord. She and Curt joined the local Jaycees in North St. Paul soon after becoming homeowners there, where she ultimately achieved the position of president of the Mrs. Jaycees. She also volunteered as secretary and treasurer and as a member of the catering group at North Presbyterian Church where she and Curt were members for nearly 35 years. After moving to the lake, Audrey volunteered for similar jobs at the Pine Lake Methodist Chapel and was active in the United Methodist Women. Audrey also managed the card ministry at PLMC and was frequently referred to as “The Card Lady” by church members, especially the kids. Audrey was also a member of the Woodland Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star from 2003 until the time of her death. She was elected treasurer in 2005 and served until 2016.
As with everything else she did in life, Audrey put her entire heart and soul in to each one of these jobs, but the thing she was most passionate about was pampering and caring for her family and her/their pets - dogs in particular. No one, dogs included, ever left Audrey’s table or home hungry...
Audrey was preceded in death by her husband and love of her life, Curt; her parents, Bill and Lucille Van Kleek; her brothers: Ronald, William and Gordon Van Kleek; her sister, Lucille Gaisbauer; and her dogs Snoopy and Duke.
Audrey will be dearly missed by all who knew her, but especially by her son, Gary and daughter-in-law Teresa Johnson; grandchildren: Jessica Gibson-Brown, Jeremy (Abby) Gibson, Justin (Beth Paris) Gibson; six great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson; her “baby sister” Valerie Bartyzal; her college friend and sister-in-law, Mari Van Kleek; as well as countless extended family members, and wonderful friends.
A Celebration of Audrey’s Life will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021 at the Pine Lake Methodist Chapel. Pastor Dawn Houser will officiate. Visitation will begin one hour prior to the celebration and an Eastern Star Service will be held at 10:30 a.m. A light lunch will be served at the Hazelton Town Hall immediately after the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to HART (Heartland Animal Rescue Team) Brainerd, or The Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota. Arrangements are with Sorensen-Root-Thompson Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Aitkin. To leave a message of condolence please go to www.srtfuneral.com.