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“I am so sad that I will miss Helen's funeral. She was a very special part of my life and I will miss her kind words and her ever ready smile. Please...Read More »
1 of 3 | Posted by: Marcia and Galen Sylvester - SD

“So sorry to hear of Helen's passing. She was a wonderful person, kind to everyone and will be missed. ”
2 of 3 | Posted by: Cynthie Macintosh - Columbus, OH

“Nancy and family, I am so sorry to hear of your mothers passing. Trying to remember the good times may help ease some of the pain. She will...Read More »
3 of 3 | Posted by: Tinker Pedersen - MN


Helen V. Johnson, age 95, of Willmar, died Saturday, Feb. 9, at Bethesda Pleasant View Nursing Home in Willmar.

A memorial service will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Vinje Lutheran Church in Willmar. Interment will be at Cloverleaf Memorial Park Cemetery. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. Arrangements are with Peterson Brothers Funeral Home in Willmar.

Helen was born on September 9, 1917 in Lake Andrew Township, north of Willmar. Her parents, Lawrence H. Larson and May Kristine (Stene) Larson, were of Scandinavian heritage. Helen only spoke Norwegian until starting classes at County School 25 near Lake Florida. She was confirmed at the East Norway Lake Church where many of her pioneer relatives are interred. Her family moved to Willmar in the early 1930's where she continued her schooling. Helen married Francis Clayton "Nib" Johnson at the Sunburg Parsonage on November 28, 1941. Directly after the ceremony, they attended the 60th wedding anniversary celebration of Helen's grandparents, Gabriel and Wilma Stene. Helen was first employed by the Willmar Gas Company as bookkeeper and later worked for the administration office of the Willmar School. She was a Red Cross Nurses Aid during World War II. Helen was a member of Vinje Lutheran Church for 66 years where she served as a Sunday school teacher, member of Circle, Mother's Club and Altar Guild. She was also a Cub Scout Den Mother and later delivered Hot Meals on Wheels. She was a lifetime member and held several leadership positions with the Veterans of Foreign War Auxiliary 1639. Helen and Nib lived in their 2nd Street East home for over 61 years. Her home was the gathering place for relatives from across the United States. She also became the Stene family archivist. Helen's grandfather, Gabriel, was the "Pioneer Kid" and wrote for the Willmar Tribune about life as an early settler. In addition to enjoying being with family and friends, Helen and Nib enjoyed card games, square dancing, golf, bowling, fishing and traveling.

She is survived by her children: Bruce Donald (and Karen) of Columbus, Ohio and Nancy Lee Larson of Minneapolis; five grandchildren: Sebine Johnson and Nathan Johnson of Columbus, Todd (and Macy Ashby) Larson of Minneapolis, Neysa (and Jason Hatfield) Larson of Portland, Oregon and Rebekka Larson of St. Petersburg, Florida; and one great-granddaughter: Anya Helen Hatfield-Larson of Portland. Helen is also survived by two brothers: Weldon (and Beulah) Larson and Richard (and Betty) Larson of Willmar; four sisters-in-law: Esther Johnson of Willmar, , Luanne (and Sonny) Peterson of Shoreview, Geraldine Larson of Watertown, Denna Waters of Brooklyn Center; and one brother-in-law William (and Alice) Larson of St. Cloud.

Preceding Helen in death were her parents; her husband, Francis in 2002; two sisters: Lorraine Larson of Minneapolis and Dolores Reek of Renville; three brothers: Gordon Larson of Waterville, Roger Larson of New London, David Larson of Willmar; two sisters-in-law: Blanch Larson of Spicer; and Karen Lane of Minneapolis; and son-in-law Ross Larson of Minneapolis.

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