Dean A. Johnson, 89
Published 9:24 am Friday, July 14, 2023
Dean Allen Johnson, 89, passed away peacefully on April 19, 2023, in Austin, MN. Born to George and Helen (Swank) Johnson on July 23, 1933, Dean led a full life with family, friends, and an expansive community of neighbors and colleagues. He is now reunited with his beloved wife of 57 years, Ingrid “Nini” Johnson, who preceded him in death in 2016.
Although Dean’s life began and ended in Austin, he traveled far and wide in the interim. After graduating from Austin High School in 1951, he went to work in the Texas oil fields. Then following a brief enlistment in the Minnesota National Guard, Dean began his Air Force career in 1953. He completed basic training at Parks Air Force Base (AFB) in Dublin, CA and radio school at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS. During his 22 years in the Air Force, Dean was stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany; Samsun, Turkey; Kincheloe, Michigan; Waverly, Iowa; Royal Thai AFB in Ubon, Thailand; Rantoul, Illinois; Guam; Andersen AFB, and finished his enlistment in Scotia, NY, with recruiting duty. He retired in 1975 as a Master Sergeant.
Dean met Nini, the great love of his life, in 1956 in Stockholm, Sweden. They maintained a long-distance relationship with letters, calls and visits. They were married in Saltsjo-Boo, Sweden, in 1959, and started their life together in Bremerhaven. After his military retirement, Dean, Nini, and their four children settled in Austin. Dean earned his two-year degree at Riverland College in 1978 and his B.S. in Business Administration and Marketing from Mankato State University in 1980. He worked several jobs, including security service at Hormel Foods, and later obtained a stock broker’s license and invested independently for years.
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Dean was a model of civic engagement. Because his love of radio operations extended beyond his time in the Air Force, he was involved with the Austin Amateur Radio Relay Club. His nickname was “Captain Code” and he was well-known throughout the midwest for the speed of his signal transmission. He was active in the Freemasonry and a member of the Masonic Temple, Scottish Rite, and Shrine Temple for over 55 years. One of his favorite pastimes was playing the cymbal (gong) to the delight of onlookers while on the Shriners’ parade bandwagon. Dean was a long-time member of the Austin Church of Christ, American Legion, VFW, DAV, Morning and Noon Kiwanis clubs, and the Eagles. The Salvation Army, Austin Art Club, Mower County Human Society and American Red Cross all benefited from his time and generosity. He loved music, especially classical, and was a frequent attendee of the Austin Artist Series and Austin Symphony Orchestra. He shared his love of music by sponsoring lessons, instruments, and concerts for his children, grandchildren and neighbors. Dean and Nini had soft spots for young people and looked for ways to encourage kids to read and learn. They fostered education and supplemented their kids’ and grandkids’ education through enrichment and other academic programs. Dean even had a book club for kids in his neighborhood and rewarded them for reading books over the summer months. He was always looking to learn, grow and improve himself, thus he took up jogging midlife and ran the first of five marathons at age 58.
Dean was preceded in death by his parents, George and Helen; wife, Nini; siblings Lois, Robert, Harold and Shirley. He is survived by his children, Lars (Karen) Johnson, Tina Johnson, Jay (Brenda) Johnson, and Karen Weis; also his former son-in-law, Jordan Weis . His grandchildren are Necia (Adam) Erlandsson, Holly (Luke) Mirau, Bridget (Jeff Moss) Oleson, Diana (Ryan) Wacholz, Bill Oleson, Noah (Casey) Weis, Jesse (Jessica) Johnson, and Jonah Weis. Great grandchildren are Christian, Dakota, McKenzie, Ashton, Devon, Daisy, Brylynn and Freyja. “Honorary” grandchildren are Judi, Zeline, and Benjamin Villar Lopez.
Celebration of Life service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 23, 2023, at Worlein Funeral Home Chapel in Austin. Visitation will take place one hour prior to the service. There will be a Masonic Service at 2:15 p.m. for those wishing to attend. The family invites everyone to join them at the Eagles at 3:00 p.m. for Military Honors and luncheon with time to visit and share stories of Dean. There will be a private interment in Grandview Cemetery, Austin, at a later date. Memorials may be made to the Shriners Children’s Hospital, Twin Cities. Worlein Funeral Home of Austin is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.worlein.com.