Harriet Johnson, age 96 of Maple Grove, MN, formerly of Sac City, IA, passed away on May 19, 2020 at the Arbor Lakes Senior Living in Maple Grove, MN. Harriet was born on a farm in Jackson Township, Sac County, Iowa on November 8, 1923. She was the sixth of seven children born to Harley Howard and Harriet Mae (Barber) Ashbaugh. Harriet was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in Sac City and became a member after receiving confirmation. As a teenager she was chosen by the Session to represent the area youth at the Presbyterian retreat at Lake Okoboji near Spirit Lake, Iowa.
On the farm as a child Harriet learned responsibility and safety measures by helping care for farm animals. She loved horseback riding on Sunday afternoons when the horses didn’t have to work in the fields. She helped her siblings plant and harvest a big garden. Gathering eggs was not a priority for her as the mother hens would not cooperate. Her older brother would constantly challenge her in both physical and mental races, and they were not always helpful to their younger brother who struggled to keep up. Her grandmother told her stories of living when the Indians roamed the country. Those tales sparked a lifelong interest in reading for Harriet.
Harriet attended a couple of rural elementary schools before entering Sac City High School in ninth grade in the fall of 1937. During those four years she was active in both band and orchestra playing the French Horn. She also sang in the Girls’ Glee Club and mixed chorus. Music was her love. She became a member of the Latin Club, camera club and GAA (girls athletic association) winning points by riding her bicycle four miles to and from school carrying her French Horn. She learned how to swim in the Sac City Public School gymnasium pool.
In the fall of 1941 Harriet entered ISTC, Iowa State Teachers College, in Cedar Falls, IA enrolling in elementary education. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and America entered WW11 on December 7, that turned all future plans upside down. Harriet left college at the end of the year due to the fact she was asked to teach all eight grades in a rural school near her home. After four years she was also asked to teach sixth grade in Sac City. During the summer months she continued her education at ISTC.
In 1945 when the war was over, the men came home and the country began to return to normal. Glen E Johnson came back from the Pacific Theatre and started dating Harriet. Six months later they married on April 21, 1946 at the Presbyterian Church in Sac City and began farming on the Indian Hill Dairy farm for two years. Then, Glen joined with friends to sell cemetery lots. Less than two years later, Glen was again drafted to serve in the Korean War from 1950-51.
Upon returning from Korea, he continued selling cemetery lots in various places which precipitated a move every time he was promoted. Harriet, in the meantime kept the home fires burning. They would become proud parents of 5 children (4 boys and 1 girl). Harriet eventually received a degree in elementary education from Moorhead State College, Moorhead, MN in 1965 and began teaching the handicapped at Orono High School, Long Lake, MN and she taught there for 21 years. During this time she became a reading specialist receiving her masters degree in Reading from St Cloud State University.
In 1986 after Harriet retired, Glen & Harriet moved to their lake home on East Twin Lake north of Nisswa, MN to spend their summers. In winter they lived in McAllen, TX in their mobile home in Paradise Park until they built a home in Alamo Country Club, Alamo, TX. They enjoyed many summer retirement years boating, swimming, and water skiing with family and friends at the lake. Winter months in Texas kept them busy playing golf, shuffleboard and card games, especially bridge which Harriet loved.
Harriet was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church and had served as a Sunday School teacher, a deacon and an elder. She was strong in her faith.
Glen (Ernie) passed away on January 9, 2008 at Comfort House in McAllen, TX after a short stay in the hospital. He was buried in the Oakland Cemetery in Sac City, IA. Harriet continued living in their home in Alamo, TX until 2013 when she moved to Ridge Point Senior Living in Minnetonka, MN to be closer to her children. In 2018 when her son Raymond passed away from brain cancer at the age of 65 she moved to Arbor Lakes Senior Living in Maple Grove, MN where she resided until her passing on May 19, 2020.
Surviving Harriet are 4 children and their spouses, Ernie (Patty), Steve (Sue), Barb (Mike) Tripp, Larry (Kim), her daughter in law Ursula and her sister in law Shirlee Ashbaugh, nieces, nephews and cousins. Also surviving are 14 grandchildren: Sandy, David, Tom (Heather) Johnson, Tim, Dan (Leslie) Johnson, Elizabeth (Jan) Bruening, Robert (Beate) Ohla, Frederick (Kristin) Ohla, Victoria (Sascha) Kuhna, Alisa (Derek) Huebsch, Ryan (Cate) Tripp, Michael (Andrea) Tripp, Kristin (George) Oliveira and Eric (Susie) Johnson besides 19 great grandchildren: Dan Jr., Gabriella, Briella, Jocelyn, Merissa, John, Lauren, Owen, Finnly, Emilia, Magnus, Marie, Louise, Christopher, Olivia, Fletcher, Camilla, Tripp and Charlie.
In the end, it was not the years in her life that counted, but the life in her years. Her life was a blessing and her memory a treasure. She was loved beyond words and is missed beyond measure.