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Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson


- July 6, 2020

Robert Johnson, 94 of Whitewood passed away on June 30, 2020 at Garden Hills Assisted Living in Spearfish

Bob Johnson died peacefully on Tuesday evening, June 30, surrounded by his daughters, daughter-in-law, and special friend Cindy Ladner. These women had cared for him in his home until the last two weeks of his life. The family appreciates the extraordinary care and friendship that Cindy provided to Bob and his family. Bob had been healthy and living independently until his health declined rapidly in the past four months.

Bob was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 28, 1926 to Richard and Blenda Johnson. When he was four years old, the family moved to a farm southeast of Wilmot, SD. Bob grew up working on the farm and enjoying the lakes in northeastern South Dakota. At Wilmot High School, Bob was on the Wolves basketball team, played the trumpet, and was senior class president. The Class of ’44 was a close-knit group who gathered every September for the WHS homecoming. Bob enjoyed riding in the parade each year with his classmates. In September 2019, Bob and his classmates celebrated their 75th class reunion.

Immediately after graduating from high school, Bob reported to Navy flight training. He learned to fly with a biplane and later mastered aircraft-carrier landings. He transported planes across the Atlantic Ocean for use in Europe during WWII. Primarily, he flew PBY and PBM seaplanes over the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea in search of enemy submarines. While stationed in Panama, his squadron defended the Panama Canal. He was stationed in several other locations including Corpus Christi, TX; Jacksonville, FL; Trinidad/Tobago; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Bob was recalled by the Navy during the Korean War and continued flying for the Naval Reserves afterwards. He retired from the Navy in 1967.

Bob graduated from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN.

While continuing to fly for the Navy, Bob became a pilot for North Central Airlines, a regional airline serving the Midwest. The airline (renamed Republic Airlines) expanded providing Bob the opportunity to fly all over the United States. During his airline career, he flew Convair 580s, DC-3s. and DC-9s. In 1984 when his flight hours were totaled at his retirement, Bob had spent over five years of his life piloting various aircraft.

While attending the University of Minnesota Bob met Joan Olsen. They were married in Albert Lea, Minnesota on June 7, 1958. Their three children were born in Minneapolis. Living on Bush Lake in Bloomington allowed the family to enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and ice skating. In 1968, the family moved to Spearfish. Bob and Joan purchased their ranch near Whitewood in 1974 fulfilling Bob’s lifelong dream to own a cattle ranch. In 1975, the family moved into their newly built log home. Bob did most of the finish work on the home himself.

Bob is survived by his two daughters Beth (Jamie) McConaty and Lara (Clark) Coberly; his daughter-in-law Heidi (Jim) Anderson; his six grandchildren Abby (Brandon), Will John (Kylee), Cavan, Megan, Annika, and Aidan; his five great-grandchildren Evelyn, Charlie, Weslyn, Hattie, and Jordy; brother-in-law Eugene Stolze; nieces Nichol, Susan, Jan, Marcia, and Doreen; nephews Max, Kent, Loren, Craig, and Scott.

He was preceded in death by his wife Joan; his son Eric; his parents; his siblings William, Richie, and Rose; his sisters-in-law Amelia and Dorothy Jean; his niece Carol; and his nephews Bobby, Scott, Bruce, and Keith.

The funeral will be held July 6 at 10 am at the First Presbyterian Church in Whitewood. Burial with military honors will be at Rose Hill Cemetery in Spearfish at 11:45 am. Guidelines for COVID-19 will be followed to allow friends to celebrate Bob’s life with the family. Memorials can be given to the Whitewood Library. Bob and Joan (library board member for 21 years) were supporters of the library.

Arrangements are under the care of the Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapels and Isburg Crematory of Spearfish. Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com



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