Edith C. Johnson, age 86, of Frederic passed away on March 22, 2011 at Frederic Nursing & Rehab. Edith was born to Hans and Margaret Byman of Minneapolis on April 26th, 1924. She was the 2nd of 4 daughters. Their given names were Francis, Edith, Ruth, and Margaret, but we kids knew them by the names Hannah, Edie, Ruthie, and Mugsie. Edith attended Morris Park Elementary and continued on to high school to about age 16 when she quit and went to work. She always said she hated school. The job experiences she shared with us included working for a furrier. She sewed fur coats and was frequently called upon to model fur coats for prospective customers. She also worked for Northwest Airlines as a groomer. This job included cleaning the interiors of airplanes, mainly changing the doilies on the headrests of the seats. This was during WWII when the airlines were very busy. In order to save some time, after an engine was overhauled NW offered free rides to its employees instead of loading sandbags. Edie’s friend and co-worker, Virgil, talked Edie into taking such a ride on a plane. At the last minute before loading Edith backed out, so then did Virgil. They watched as the plane took off, rose, then crashed and all in it were killed. This experience kept her from riding in planes much in future years.
Virgil subsequently talked Edith into visiting her cousin’s farm in the town of Blaine, WI for a week end. This is the farm where my dad, Hjalmer lived with his mother and some other siblings. It was love at first sight for my dad. They married 6 months later on Nov. 7th, 1942. Edith was 18 and Hjalmer was 29. Seven days after the wedding, Hjalmer received an induction notice from Uncle Sam, and 2 weeks after that boarded a train to Mississippi for 18 months basic training. He fought on the front lines in France for only 2 days when he was hit in the knee and hip by shrapnel. Hjalmer spent 2 years recovering in a Clinton, IA hospital. Edie moved to that city to live and work near him during his recovery. A fortune teller told Edith that someone was going to make her some rugs. Unknown to her, Hjalmer was making rugs for her during his stay at the hospital.
When Hjalmer sufficiently recovered they purchased a farm outside of Bruno, MN and Hjalmer attended agricultural school. It was 1947. The couple had their first 2 children Sharon and Diane while living there. The farm was stony and summers were so short they only got a decent corn crop one out of the 4 years they owned that farm.
They sold this farm and purchased a farm in Cushing, WI in 1951. Two months after they moved here, a great wind storm took out 29 barns in the area, including theirs. They had little insurance but neighbors and relatives helped to rebuild the barn. Life on the farm was not easy for Edith. Hjalmer was left partially disabled from his war wounds, so Edith had to work side by side with him milking cows every morning and evening in addition to working and harvesting a large garden. In addition to farm work, Edith worked full time in a plastics plant in Frederic to purchase additional cows. They only had 3 cows when they moved to Cushing. She did this for 4 years until she had Kenneth, and 2 years later had Roger in 1960. They never had the freedom to go on vacations. The only one I can recall is a 3 or 4 day visit to Edith’s sister Ruth’s home in Minot, ND.
In 1963 Edith and Hjalmer built a new house on the farm, because the kids were always getting sick in the drafty old farm house.
In 1981 son Ken married Kathy and took over the farm. Edith and Hjalmer bought a house in Frederic, moving there the day after Ken’s wedding. Edith suffered empty nest syndrome pretty badly. She gave up her home, job, both sons, as Roger stayed on with the newlyweds, and neighborhood friends all in one week end.
She and Hjalmer became active in the local senior citizen organizations in Frederic, Luck, and Siren. Both liked to play cards. In addition to teaching their kids to enjoy 500 and Whist, they socialized at many local card playing gatherings. Besides cards, Edith enjoyed painting ceramics with a group of women near Cushing. She also went on many bus trips with Hjalmer or gal friends including trips to Texas, Tennessee, tulip festivals in Michigan and Amana Colonies in Iowa.
Some time after Hjalmer passed away in 1990, she started enjoying the friendship of Ralph Jurek who frequented the Frederic Senior Center. Ralph loved to drive the car so they visited friends and relatives all over Wisconsin and Minnesota. Ralph would call her and would tell her to be ready in a half hour because they were going to Rice Lake. She would fuss that her hair needed washing, but he always talked her into going with him, even on a short notice. They had 12 happy years of going places.
Edith started having trouble from mini-strokes and falling down without being able to get up. She suffered her most serious stroke in October of 2004, which weakened her enough that she could no longer live in her home. She did much physical therapy while residing at the Frederic Care Center, however, she was never quite able to recapture her mobility, and thus she spent her remaining years there. Several of the staff at this nursing home, now called Frederic Nursing and Rehabilitation, has stated how much they enjoyed Edith. Many told me she was one of their “favorites” because of her eternally sunny attitude. She always laughed at lot and rarely complained of anything. She loved getting visits from her children and, of course, phone calls from Ralph. We will miss her and will have many fond memories of our mother, Edith.
Edith was preceded in death by her husband Hjalmer; her parents; and sisters Francis Nelson and Margaret Jacobson.
She is survived by her children Sharon (Ron) Holden, Diane Johnson, Ken (Kathy) Johnson, and Roger (Cathy) Johnson; her grandchildren Mark, Kelly, Daniel, Mark, Sarah, Mary, Brad, and Brian; a great grandbaby on the way; her sister Ruth Copeland; and dear friend Ralph Jurek.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 2:00 PM (visitation 1-2PM) at Swedberg-Taylor Family Funeral Home, Webster with Pastor Dorothy Sandahl officiating. Music will be provided by Pat Taylor and Fran McBroom. Interment will follow at Hillcrest Cemetery in Blaine Township. Casketbearers will be Roger Johnson, Bradley Johnson, Brian Johnson, Ken Johnson, Mark Johnson, and Mark Holden.