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Vernon Johnson

Feb. 3, 1918-June 5, 2008

Former Duluth and Two Harbors resident Vernon H. Johnson, 90, of Eagan, and a summer resident of Superior, died Thursday, June 5, 2008, after a heart attack on May 14.

Vernon was born the son of Einar and Ida (Graden) Johnson on Feb. 3, 1918, and married Florence J. Peterson on April 9, 1938. He was a World War II veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46. Vernon began working for the DM&IR Railroad in the fall of 1936 in Two Harbors, first on the ore docks and later in the paint shop. He designed the DM&IR logo, which appears on the old locomotives that are now on display in Two Harbors, Duluth and Proctor.

In 1950, Vernon went into construction, building many homes in Two Harbors and about 800 more in Silver Bay, during the taconite boom. Vernon worked as a boiler engineer at the Two Harbors hospital and graduated from Dunwoody Institute, Minneapolis, with his chief engineer's license for boiler operation. He was employed by Superior Memorial Hospital as chief engineer director of building and grounds from 1963-83. Upon retirement from his career, he then held a position in real-estate management in Duluth, from which he retired in 1999.

Vernon had a love for education, and never gave up his quest to graduate from Two Harbors High School. He was to graduate from the high school in 1936, but his education was interrupted due to the Depression. In 2001, he walked across the stage in full cap and gown with the class of 2001, after completing his GED at age 83. Vernon had a special love for his family and friends, and he had a passion for fishing and woodworking.

Vernon is survived by his wife of 70 years, Florence; son Daniel (Rita) Johnson of Prescott, Wis.; daughters, Janet (Jeff) Mohr of Detroit Lakes, Barbara (Jim) Klawitter-Follon and Nancy (Wes) Vagle, both of Burnsville; six grandchildren; nine great grandchildren; a sister, Ellen Nordin-Neufield; as well as several nieces and nephews.

Preceding Vernon in death were his daughter, Janice Marie; parents, Einar and Ida Johnson; two brothers, Gunnar and Ivar Johnson; and son-in-law Joseph Klawitter.