Senior Connections Senior Connections Feb 2019 - Page 6

Army veteran is proud of his service DEB COX-JOHNSON Correspondent For someone who wasn’t particularly fond of the daily routine of Army life, Ed Johnson is proud of his service and enjoys the camaraderie that veterans often feel with other veterans. He has been a member of the Howard Lake American Legion for 23 years. Prior to that, he was a member of the Wayzata American Legion for 11 years. After retiring from full-time work in 2015, he decided to serve as the Legion Commander in Howard Lake. The former Post Commander was retiring, and Johnson agreed to stand for election. Elections take place every two years, and he was re-elected in 2017 for another term. Due to the high level of volunteer hours required, few are able to make this commitment, but he enjoys the work. He also still works part-time at Dura Supreme, where he went to work in 2007. He has had a lifelong interest in woodworking, carpentry, and building, and now works in the “Specials” area. Here he works on custom pieces that need a higher level of skill and attention. Early life Johnson was born in Minneapolis and attended Minneapolis South High School. There, he was a three-season athlete and served as the co-captain of both the cross country and swimming teams. He was also president of the band. Following graduation in 1968, he attended Dunwoody Technical College and became certifi ed as an auto mechanic. In 1970, he was drafted into the US Army. His schooling led the Army to put him to work fi xing Ed Johnson, age 4, working in his father’s woodworking shop. 6 Senior trucks and other vehicles in Carson, CO. While he never worked as a mechanic later in life, he credits this background with keeping him from, perhaps, being sent to Vietnam. In his later years, he has often wondered if he would have survived that front line. He grieved the loss of so many young lives, and was grateful to have been spared the direct confl ict. He was not tempted to re-enlist, and returned to Minnesota in 1972. One thing that was a major interest in his life from the age of 4 was woodworking. His father had a shop in the basement, and he loved spending time there, helping and learning. Upon leaving the Army, he was fortunate to have these skills put to extended use. Fortunate in his career opportunities and lucky in love Johnson’s fi rst job combined two loves: woodworking and boats. He went to work with the Minnetonka Boat Works, which sold, serviced, refurbished, and repaired both new Chris-Craft boats and also classic and vintage wooden boats, including Chris-Craft and Hacker-Craft. He was living and renting an apartment in Wayzata when he met his wife-to-be, Alberta (Birdie). He had restored a sailboat and was looking for a sailing partner when he knocked on the door of the woman he was dating at the time. She wasn’t home, and when her roommate, Birdie, answered the door, he invited her instead. Birdie grew up in Arizona, and at the age of 18, she wanted to know more of the world and had moved to Minnesota. When asked if his military service was a factor in her positive opinion of him, she stated, “Well, I was not from a military family, and I remember that I was much more impressed by the fact that he knew how to sail!” They married in 1976. In the meantime, Johnson had been promoted to service manager. He may have preferred working in the shop from an enjoyment perspective, but he had the skills and temperament that were needed as a service manager. Over the years, Johnson and Birdie developed an interest in living in the country. They looked at homes in a number of communities, and in 1986, they moved to Howard Lake. When the Boatworks was sold in 1987 and the management structure was radically changed, Johnson decided it was time to work for himself. He started doing welding and engine repair. He gradually moved back into woodworking and carpentry when he started getting requests to do home remodeling projects. Later, he moved into new home construction, particularly in the areas of framing, carpentry, and roofi ng. He had his own business for about 20 years, then decided it was “time for a change.” He recalls thinking that “maybe it was time to quit climbing on Connections February 2019 Ed Johnson, age 22, at home on leave from Fort Carson, CO. SUBMITTED PHOTOS roofs.” He and Birdie have enjoyed their country life. When they were not able to have children of their own, they decided to foster, and ended up adopting and raising three of their foster children. As a side business that the whole family could participate in, they raised sheep – mostly for breeding and 4-H. There are still seven sheep, and hese days, they serve mainly as “lawn mowers.” Staying connected through the American Legion Johnson was proud of his Army service, and is equally proud of how the American Legion serves both veterans and the broader community. He is, perhaps, proudest of the work the Legion does providing honors to fallen veterans. These ceremonies are provided free-of-charge by volunteers to commemorate the passing of fallen veterans. The Legion also raises money through charitable gambling, bingo, meat raffl es, and other special events. It is the job of the members to determine the best use of those funds. Those funds go to support a variety of local causes, including youth sports. In addition, the Howard Lake Legion organizes and participates in events for Memorial Day in May, and Veterans Day, Nov. 11. They also serve as the color guard, which escorts the fl ag in the Good Neighbor Days parade. They have also provided educational presentations for schools. Johnson indicated that typical Post membership More ARMY VETERAN on Pg 8 Senior Connections HJ.COM