James “Jim” Johnson was born in Perham, MN on March 21, 1949 to Erwin E. and Mayme J. (Strand) Johnson. Jim attended elementary school in Corliss and was taught by, among others, his mother, who he said held him more accountable than other students. He graduated from Perham High School and furthered his education at Fergus Falls Community College and Moorhead State University attaining a BA with a biology major and a chemistry minor.
After graduation, Jim assured Bonnie Pederson that he was a “goose” (they mate for life) and if she would marry him, they would be together for all their life. Jim and Bonnie were gifted with three children: Christopher, Matthew, and Jessica.
Jim, with his array of talents, pursued a variety of professional/career paths. He initially worked for Otter Tail County Shoreland/Land and Resource Management. Jim opened and managed the Perham Radio Shack store and directed the cellular telephone sales and team for Arvig. Jim had a variety of roles under the Arvig Enterprises “umbrella.” Wanting to follow a passion for woodworking, Jim purchased the cabinet business, now Johnson Wood Products, in 1998 from Brad Schmidt and operated the cabinet business with his son, Chris, for the rest of his life.
Jim loved local government and served multiple terms on the Perham City Council and the various committees and served as Mayor of Perham. He volunteered for the Red Cross Disaster Response Team, was a Stephen Minister and council member at Calvary Lutheran, was involved with the Perham Sportsman Club and Delta Waterfowl, as well as the Perham Rotary. Jim’s greatest “volunteerism” love was mentoring others in fishing and hunting, sharing his love with others. He always said, “I never was an athlete, but I know how to catch fish.”
Jim truly was a kind, caring, humble man with talents for problem-solving, creativity, engaging others, and countless other gifts. He treasured his family. The void he leaves behind feels immeasurable.
Jim died Tuesday, April 12, 2023 at Sanford Broadway Medical Center after a very brief illness. Jim is survived by his wife Bonnie; sons Christopher and Matthew (Trica) both of Perham; daughter Jessica (Dan) O’Boyle of Richville; his grandchildren Emma O’Boyle of Perham, Jackson O’Boyle of Richville (currently of Phoenix, AZ), and Madilyn, Ava, and Taylor Johnson of Perham; his sisters Dorothy (Bruce) Thomas of Lilydale, MN, Kathy (Daryl) Kowitz of Perham, and Karen (Nathan) Engevik of Roseau; sister-in-law Deb (Mike) Richter of New York Mills and brother-in-law Mike (Claudia) Pederson of Richville; as well as his nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends. Jim was preceded in death by his parents; paternal and maternal grandparents; nephews Dana Lehmkul, David Thomas, and Johan Engevik; father and mother-in-law Palmer and Deloris Pederson; and brother-in-law Bob Pederson.
Visitation will be 5:00-8:00 p.m. with a prayer service at 7:00 on Sunday, April 23 at Schoeneberger Funeral & Cremation Service in Perham. Visitation will resume beginning at 10:00 a.m. followed by the Memorial Service at 11:00 on Monday, April 24 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Perham. Lunch and fellowship will follow the service at the church.
Schoeneberger Funeral & Cremation Service, Perham, MN (218) 346-5175 www.schoenebergerfh.com