Robert Morris "Morrie" Johnson

March 22, 1928 ~ May 25, 2018 (age 90)

Robert Morris ("Morrie") Johnson, 90, of Duluth, MN, passed away on May 25, 2018.   Morrie was born March 22, 1928, the only child of J. Morry and Olive Johnson.   He grew up on Grandview Avenue in the Chester Park neighborhood and attended Chester Park Elementary School, Duluth East Junior High School, and Duluth Central High School, graduating in 1946.  Upon graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to Japan as part of the occupying forces after World War II.  After his time in the Army, he returned to Duluth and enrolled at UMD, where he met Joan Drannen.  Before he could graduate and marry Joan, he was called back to the Army at the start of the Korean Conflict. 


While on leave from Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, CO, Morrie and Joan were married on December 29, 1951 in Duluth.  After a short stay in Colorado, Morrie was discharged and the newlyweds moved back to Duluth, where he was employed by the Oliver Mining Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel.


While working nights on the ore docks and attending classes during the day, Morrie finished his business degree at UMD and began work in the Engineering Department of Oliver Mining, where he worked until 1965.  He completed a second degree in engineering in 1958 while attending UMD night school.  When Oliver Mining closed, he declined to be transferred to another U.S. Steel subsidiary out of state.  He instead chose to remain in Duluth and accepted a position at the D.M. & I.R. Railroad, where he stayed until his retirement in 1983.


Morrie was a man of many and varied interests.  He loved to build things, including his home on Kenilworth Avenue which he built in 1956 and in which he lived the rest of his life.  A baseball and basketball player in high school, he continued his love of sports by coaching his sons, Stephen and Terry, on their Little League baseball and Glen Avon hockey teams.  When he was no longer coaching he attended nearly all his sons' games, a practice he continued when his grandchildren began participating in sports and dance. His love of classical music motivated him to build an early stereophonic music system from kits that he purchased from a mail order catalogue so he could listen to his extensive record collection.  He also loved to garden and nurtured many prize-winning roses in his backyard. For many years he volunteered in a variety of capacities at Glen Avon Presbyterian Church.  He loved to golf and was a member at Ridgeview and Northland Country Clubs.  He was a member of the Duluth Curling Club, where he curled for over fifty years.  His favorite escape was the Drannen Johnson Family Cabin in Gordon, Wisconsin, where he spent many hours doing repairs and relaxing with family and his beloved golden retrievers. In his later years, he enjoyed reading, swimming and working out at UMD, watching sports and M*A*S*H on television, and smoking his favorite cigars.


Most of all Morrie loved his wife and his family.  He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Joan; his son Stephen (Laurie) Johnson of Duluth; his son Terry (Julie) Johnson of Duluth; grandson, Eric (Katie) Johnson of Duluth; grandson Christopher (Chelsea) Johnson of Needham, MA; granddaughter Sara (Matt) Lien, of Fargo, ND; grandson Robert (fiancé Andrea Sega) Johnson of Duluth; and four great-grandchildren, Olivia and Kendall Johnson, Hartley Johnson, and Gino Lien.  His parents and his grandson Anders Johnson preceded him in death.


Special thanks to his many caregivers at Primrose and Solvay House, who made his final days pleasant and comfortable.


A memorial service is planned for a later date.  Anyone wishing to honor Morrie with a memorial, please donate in his name to the charity or organization of your choice.

Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home, Duluth, 218-727-3555

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