Obituaries » Helen D. Johnson
July 13, 1946 - April 14, 2018
Helen Johnson of Apple Valley, Minnesota, and a “Generally Good Person”, died early Saturday morning at the age of 71 after a short battle with cancer.
Helen grew up in western North Dakota on a farm outside of Sentinel Butte. She was the oldest of 5 siblings, and from an early age said that she wanted to be a nurse. She graduated from Beach High School in 1964 and then joined the nursing program at Jamestown College. She graduated with a BSN in 1968 as an RN and was commissioned into the US Army.
During the Vietnam war she served as a nurse at Walter Reid General Hospital from 1968-1969, and at Camp Zama in Japan from 1969 to 1971. She exited active duty and joined the Army Reserve and worked in hospitals in a civilian capacity while also working as a nurse in a MASH or EVAC hospital for the Army Reserve. She lived for a time in Monterey, California but later moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, where she lived for several years. From Bismarck, and as a member of the 311th EVAC Hospital, she was deployed to the UAE as part of operation Desert Storm from December of 1990 to early 1991. She retired later that year from the Army with the rank of Colonel.
Her civilian career had many paths, all revolving around hospitals and nursing. She worked as an orthopedic nurse, a staff nurse on a unit, an OB/GYN Charge nurse, and a unit manager RN. She eventually found her way into supply and materials management for the hospital. She had a long career in various roles at MedCenter One in Bismarck. She worked for a time in New Rockford, ND before returning to Bismarck. She then worked as a consultant to Swedish Hospital in Rockford, IL, and ended her career in St. Paul at St. Paul Children’s Hospital. She officially retired in January of 2012. She did work part-time at the Cracker Barrel but stopped doing that eventually to enjoy her retirement full-time.
Helen had many passions and was very active in whichever church she was a member of at the time. While in Bismarck she was an active member at Trinity and served on the council. At Grace Lutheran in Apple Valley, she was instrumental in reviving the hand bell choir and recruiting players. She also directed their lefse making operation as part of their annual fundraiser and volunteered in the office regularly. She was also an avid piano player, and throughout her life played piano or organ at church services and other events. She also loved to read and was always eager to recommend a good book.
Helen will be remembered by many as the organizer of events and other things. She was always the one to lead an effort to get together for lunch or organize a get-together for something she knew was important. She also led efforts to organize reunions for the 1968 graduating class from the Jamestown nursing program, which included many of her oldest and closest friends. And she always showed compassion for others such as helping others in their time of need and being there to support anyone who needed a hand. She was selfless and gave without another thought other than to help.
Helen is preceded in death by her parents Carl and Dorothy Johnson, and is survived by her siblings Ann Bredemeier (Stan Wanner), Bruce, Craig (Julie), and Clark (Lisa), as well as their families. This includes several beloved nieces and nephews including Meredith (Justin), Carisa, Stephanie, Daniel, and Addison, and Meredith’s children Luke and Celia. She was a great Auntie and they will all miss her very much.
Funeral service for Helen will be at Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, MN on Wednesday April 18th at 11am. Helen will be buried in the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan, ND, and that service will be on Friday April 20th, with the time TBD. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Grace Lutheran Hand Bell Choir.