Memories of Al Johnson

“Al Johnson will go down in the annals of Wisconsin as one of the leading entrepreneurs and civic leaders in the history of Door County and Wisconsin.” – Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin Governor (1987 – 2001) and former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services (2001 – 2005)

“Al was a big part of my life from a very early age. Al’s bark was worse then his bite, the man had a heart of gold and did so much for so many people. Sister Bay doesn’t seem the same without him. He is sadly missed by this Swede!” – Mitch Larson, owner of On Deck Clothing Company, whose Dad, Wink Larson, was Al’s best friend and put the first goat on the roof of his restaurant.

“When I was a sophomore, he saw me slip on a cinder track at a meet. Next thing I knew, I had a pair of cleats. He knew Mom couldn’t afford them. Thanks, Al – rest in peace.” – Kevin Lind

“He’s a man who helped make Door County what it is today. A great community leader who helped a lot of people in his lifetime, a great humanitarian. His coffee table, with Winkie Larson, Eddie Valentine, Baldy Bridenhagen and the boys had a lot of fun and a lot of Door County lore was created by the men at that table.” – Garey Bies, Wisconsin Assemblyman who was hired by the Police Commission Al Johnson served on in 1970. “Whether he agreed with me or not, I always told him he was responsible for bringing me up here,” Bies said.

“Al was a father, a brother, and a best friend. I heard him swear like you wouldn’t believe, but the next minute he’d have his arm around you. For all his funny ways and how hard he could get with people, he had a huge heart. He’s going to be missed by a lot of people.” – Dan Peterson, owner of the Viking Grill and an employee of Al’s from 1953 – 1979

“Obviously he had a great impact on Sister Bay, but he probably did as much if not more for all of Northern Door.” – John Lowry, Liberty Grove Town Chairman

“Al never needed an audience to do the right thing.” – Jane Faella (Polacheck), in a post to the message board commemorating the restaurant’s 60th anniversary in 2009

“When you spoke with Al you knew exactly where he was coming from. He spoke his mind on everything, and I mean everything, never concerned about opposing views; sometimes I think he just enjoyed a good debate. Throughout his years he changed thousands of lives. For those of us who worked for him, and with random others, he revealed his generosity. He was a man always willing to give back to others and his community.” – Denise Bhirdo, Sister Bay Village Board President and former Al Johnson’s employee

“The best experience for us was that we could work for you. Thanks to it we could travel, learn English. For many people from less happy countries their dreams could come true. They could start their new lives.” – Radka and Daniel (last name not given), Czech Republic, in a post to the message board commemorating the restaurant’s 60th anniversary in 2009