Obituary: Donold Sydney Johnson

Donald Sydney Johnson, 89 of Ellison Bay died at Scandia Village in Sister Bay on October 15, 2015. He was born to Axel Samuel Johnson and Mary Hulda (Rosengren) March 30, 1926 on a farm in Liberty Grove, Wisconsin.

Donald grew up in a family of nine children living on a farm where he assisted with twice daily milking and working the fields with a team of horses. He attended Appleport School where he and his siblings offered recitations and musical selections in PTA programs. He and his siblings also sang at the Sister Bay Moravian Church. Donald’s formal educaton ended with the completion of 10th grade when it became necessary for him to help on the family farm. Growing up as a farmer/carpenter’s son during the Great Depression taught him a variety of fix it skills. There was nothing he could not do but he enjoyed working with wood and small engines the most. He was inducted into the U.S. Army January 29, 1945 at Milwaukee, WI. He served in Japan with the 221st Airborne Medical Company. He was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge and was recommended for further military training. Donald chose to muster out of the Army with an honorable discharge November 16, 1945. He returned to northern Door County where he and JoAnn M. Fandrei, daughter of Frank and Floy (Sitte) Fandrei, married March 25, 1950, and spent 43 years together until JoAnn’s death July 30, 1993.

Shortly after marriage he and JoAnn purchased land for their Ellison Bay home. Donald, with guidance from experienced contractor Kenneth Soderberg, labored to build their home, a portent of things to come. He worked for the Reiss Steamship Company transporting mainly coal and iron ore to ports extending from Lake Superior to the Saint Lawrence seaway. Beginning as an oiler he gradually tested his way up marine engineer ranks to 1st Assistant Engineer, one level shy of Chief Engineer. Upon his departure from sailing he managed H.J. LeRoy Lumber Company in Ellison Bay, then began work as a carpenter with Kenneth Soderberg. Upon Kenneth’s retirement Donald struck out on his own forming Bay-to-Lake Builders Inc. a home construction company grounded on his personal integrity, driven by his insistence of a job well done and recognized for quality craftsmanship. He continued working as a carpenter- contractor until health issues forced his retirement in 1988. Following his retirement he operated a one-man lawn care, caretaking and remodeling business. He will be fondly remembered for his good natured teasing, quick wit, no job is done unless it is well done, work ethic and “must be time for coffee”
Donald was a life long member of the Sister Bay Moravian Church and devoted countless hours to Liberty Grove VFW Post 8337.

He is survived by his son; Raymond D. Johnson and Char Baker of Ellison Bay and daughter; Rev. Jean M. Johnson of Ennis, Montana. He was preceded in death by his wife, JoAnn; four brothers, Clyde, Clayton, Curtis and Winnfield; four sisters, Louise (Lind), Irene (Shippnick), Myrtle (Greiger), and Gladys. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews and extended family members.

A funeral service will be held at the Sister Bay Moravian Church on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 2:00 P.M. Visitation will be at the church from 1:00 P.M. until the time of service at 2:00 P.M. A Military service will follow. A luncheon will follow the burial service.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be given to the church of his faith, Sister Bay Moravian Church, 10924 Old Stage Rd., Sister Bay, WI 54234 or VFW Post 8337, P.O. Box 201, Ellison Bay, WI 54210 or Good Samaritan Society Scandia Village, 10560 Applewood Rd., Sister Bay, WI 54234.

Donald’s family would like to thank his friends for their companionship throughout his life. He enjoyed each of you and we so appreciate your enrichment of his daily living. A special thanks to his “family” at Scandia Village for the love and care they gave him for the years he lived there.

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