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Derald Sterling Johnson

Derald Sterling Johnson

Derald Sterling Johnson, age 83 a long time resident of Park Rapids, passed away on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at the Heritage Living Center in Park Rapids, MN with his loved ones at his side. Derald was born on January 14, 1934 in Clarkfield, MN to Halvor C. and Alma (Gautefall) Johnson. He spent his early boyhood years in Hazel Run, MN and at the age of 6 moved with his family to Utah where he enjoyed playing high school football and competing in rodeos until becoming totally blind at the age of 16. As a young man, Derald returned to Minnesota where he attended the MN School for the Blind in Faribault. On September 20, 1957, Derald was united in marriage to Shirley Ann Johnson at the Parkway United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. They were blessed with a daughter, Carolyn Ann. In 1961, Derald began working as a radiology technician at St. Barnabas Hospital in Minneapolis in a career that spanned over 30 years. In 1980, Derald and Shirley fulfilled a long time dream of purchasing property on Bottle Lake north of Park Rapids where Derald designed and helped to build their dream home. Derald and his wife completed almost all the interior woodwork for their new home. He loved spending time out on the lake where he enjoyed fishing, swimming or waterskiing. He also enjoyed running in several marathons up north. In the 1970's, he began spending time on Citizens Band radios which in turn drove him into becoming a knowledgeable ham radio operator. As a CB'er, Derald was known as "coppertop" and he had the call letters, KA0IZA as a "Ham". During his years with ham radio Derald was in charge of running the PICO weather service for 25 years which covered a five state region. His life was deeply saddened with the death of his precious wife and soul mate, Shirley in 2008. He continued living on his own and spending time with his daughter and son-in-law at their home on Pelican Lake near Brainerd. Derald enjoyed playing bingo three times each week with his friends. He also enjoyed playing 500 rummy and cribbage and he always played to win. Above all, Derald will be remembered for his great competence at everything he did, his determination to do everything well and his great love and loyalty for his family and friends. He will be lovingly remembered by his daughter, Carolyn and her husband, Dave Struck of Plymouth, MN; two grandchildren: Haley and Sam both of Plymouth; his sister, Doris Atkinson of Bountiful,Utah; and many nieces, nephews, ham radio family members and his Living At Home Friends. Derald was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Shirley and several brothers and sisters. Memorial services will be held 11 AM Saturday, April 29, 2017 at the Jones-Pearson Funeral Home in Park Rapids. Friends may call beginning one hour prior to the service. To leave on line condolences or to view the video tribute please visit