New furnace given to Nevis veteran

Nevis veteran Bob Johnson and his wife Cammy received a new high efficiency furnace through a partnership with the Lennox company and Ike's Heating and Cooling. Justin Isaacson (third from left) and his "Feel the Love" crew (from left) Brad Bruce, Caleb Wright and Joshua Wenz provided free installation. Lorie Skarpness/ Enterprise.

Veteran Bob Johnson, a longtime Nevis resident, received a big surprise recently when he learned he was getting a free furnace through a partnership with Lennox and Ike’s Heating and Cooling.

Johnson worked in carpentry and did many construction projects for people in the Nevis area.

“Bob has been a dear friend of mine for many years,” Isaacson said. “He’s always been there for the veterans and is such a compassionate soul. It was an overwhelming feeling of joy and satisfaction that I could give back to him because he’s given so much. He’s a Vietnam veteran. He’s very active in the services for the veterans and very selfless. Benefiting somebody in need who is always there for everybody else in their time of need, there’s no better feeling. For several years their furnace has had intermittent problems, typically when they needed it the most. I thought who better to be a recipient of this ‘Feel the Love Heat Up Minnesota’ than Bob and Cammy.”

Johnson said the news came as a complete surprise.

“I never heard of the ‘Feel the Love’ program until Justin came up to me one day and said this was going to happen,” he said.


“At first he thought I was joking, but when he realized it was for real, he gave me a big hug,” Isaacson said.

On a cloudy day in late October with snow in the forecast, the furnace was delivered by a crew from Ike’s wearing bright red “Feel the Love” shirts and donating their time for the installation.

The gift couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Temperatures were in the 30s and Johnson was wrapped in a fleecy Marine blanket with his tiger-striped cat, “Orange,” curled up in his lap.

After suffering a heart attack earlier in the month, Johnson was recuperating at home and said having a new furnace they can count on this winter means a lot to him.

“I want to say just a whole bunch of big ‘thank yous’ to everyone who helped me get the furnace and put it in,” he said.

“Timing is of the essence,” Isaacson said. “This was a divine appointment that happened for a reason. Bob and Cammy have a furnace that’s going to be reliable for them and hopefully that can put them at ease a little bit with all the things they’re struggling with right now.”

A sense of duty

A Marine Corps veteran, Johnson was drafted during the Vietnam war and served from 1966-67. When he returned to the manufacturing job he held before the war, he said the community in Cannon Falls was not welcoming. “We got spit on,” he said.


Bob Johnson

Johnson has been an active member of the Marine Corps League of the Park Rapids area for 10 years.

“We do the Honor Guard for funerals and burials from Austin, Minn. to the northern border to the Dakota border,” he said. “Before Memorial Day, a few of us also go out and clean the cemetery and trim the headstones for the Veterans. I feel it’s my duty to do this for my fellow veterans.”

Johnson said, at Veteran’s Day, it is important for everyone to know and recognize those who served their country. The Marine Honor Corps Guard participates in the annual Veteran’s Day program at Nevis and Menahga schools each year. Johnson said it is an important time to share the history of our veterans and what they fought for with students.

“Young people need to believe in our country,” he said.

Other veterans feeling the love

The “Feel the Love” program has benefited other area veterans as well.

Isaacson said he has been part of the ‘Feel the Love’ program since its inception. While he typically learns about people who need a furnace while out on repair calls, nominations from the community are also accepted each September, either through a form on the Lennox North America website or by contacting Ike’s Heating and Cooling.

“I research the situations and the priorities are veterans who have medical disabilities and seniors or families with children who are without heat,” he said.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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