Curtis E. “Curt” Johnson, 91, Aitkin, passed away Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 after a brief battle with COVID-19 at Aicota Health Care Center, Aitkin.
Curt was born July 10, 1929 at Ironwood, Michigan to V.H. “Herb” and Emma “Peg” (Miller) Johnson. When Curt and his brother Wayne were young, the family moved to St. Paul, where he attended public schools and graduated from Monroe High School in 1947.
Curt took some time to enjoy life after he graduated. He worked on the crew of a sprint car owned by some friends, took a cross-country car trip that went through Niagara Falls, New York City and stopped at the Indianapolis 500 on the way back to Minnesota. He sold used cars as “The Smiling Swede” and hauled new Fords from the Ford Plant in St. Paul to the western states for K.W. McKee. He also attended the University of Minnesota.
Curt met his wife Audrey Van Kleek 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. Curt will be dearly missed by all who knew him, but especially by his sweetheart Audrey. Shortly before meeting Audrey, Curt began working for Northern States Power Co. as temporary street crew worker for the gas utility. He later became a laborer and proud IBEW member for the substation construction division of the electric utility. That job grew into a truck driving position hauling materials to construction sites around the five-state area and ultimately to the office manager for that division at NSP Headquarters in Minneapolis, where he retired after 33 years of continuous service in 1988. It was then that he and Audrey achieved a long-term dream of building their retirement lake home on the family property (the former Echo Inn Resort purchased by his parents in 1949) on Big Pine Lake.
Curt was a giver and a public servant. After he and Audrey bought their first home in North St. Paul, he soon joined the local Jaycees, where he achieved the position of president. He was also a city councilman and mayor there for 28 years. Curt started his lengthy memberships in the Lions Club and Masons in North St. Paul and carried both with him when he moved to the lake, where he was an active member of the Bay Lake Lions, Mystic Lodge 213, A.F.&A.M. and the Aadzuhman Shrine Club. He was a 32° Scottish Rite Freemason and served the Lord as a lay leader and delegate to the Minnesota United Methodist Conference at the Pine Lake Methodist Chapel.
Curt was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers, Wayne Johnson and Harold Ness.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Audrey; son, Gary (Teresa) Johnson; grandchildren: Jessica Gibson-Brown, Jeremy (Abby) Gibson, Justin (Beth Paris) Gibson; six great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson; as well as countless extended family members, friends, and lodge brothers.
A celebration of Curt’s life will be 11 a.m., Saturday, May 8, 2021 at Sorensen-Root-Thompson Funeral Home in Aitkin. Pastor Dawn Houser will officiate. Visitation will begin one hour prior to the celebration and a Masonic service will begin at 10:30 a.m. The celebration will be held in conjunction with his brother Wayne Johnson’s celebration service. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center or Second Harvest Heartland. To leave a condolence please go to www.srtfuneral.com.