John L. “Jack” Johnson, 97, passed away on Thursday March 3, 2022, at CHI Health in Lisbon, ND. Jack was born to Clarence and Evelyn (Harrington) Johnson on April 16, 1924, at Buffalo, ND. Jack grew up on a farm near Buffalo with his older brother Dayton and sister Calley. The family toiled, persevered, and survived the dirty thirties of the Great Depression era in part by, according to Jack, “eating a lot of artery clogging lard sandwiches.” (which partially explains why he only lived to 98 years). One of Jack’s duties as a young boy on the farm was maintaining a ”fresh” team of horses at all times for his father (Clarence) when he was doing the field work. Jack attended country school and then Buffalo High School at Buffalo, ND graduating in 1942. Shortly thereafter both Jack and brother Dayton enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (precursor to the U.S. Air Force). After basic training, Jack was assigned to the 721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Heavy Bomb Group and boarded a troop ship bound for Naples, Italy. Jack was trained as a ball-turret gunner on a B-24 bomber and flew many missions over Germany, Czechoslovkia, and Austria. On one of the bombing missions, Jack nearly met his maker when his oxygen unit, located right next to his head, was destroyed by enemy machine-gun fire. Luckily, one of the waist-gunners was able to get down into the ball-turret and provide oxygen. After Jack came home from Italy in 1945, he returned to the family farm at Buffalo. Jack attended two years at North Dakota Agricultural College (NDSU). When asked why he did not complete his degree he replied that he was consumed with thoughts and guilt of innocent people that were likely killed as a result of the bombing missions. Jack met Viola Stangler (Alice, ND) and they were married July 30, 1947 at Page, ND. Jack and Viola purchased and ran “Jack’s Bar” in Alice, ND for several years prior to Jack’s career as a rural mail carrier. Jack hauled mail out of Alice for twenty years as well as operating the family farm for several of those years. In 1973, Jack was transferred to Pelican Rapids, MN and retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 1984. Jack took his job very seriously. He could bust through more snow with a two-wheel drive car then anyone had ever imagined. When he finally purchased a four-wheel drive, well, he was virtually unstoppable. Jack and Viola enjoyed many years with friends and family at Prairie Lake and upon retirement purchased a home in Mesa, AZ where they eventually became permanent residents. Jack was a master card player. Pinocle was his game of choice and he played to win. If you had the misfortune of being his partner you had best be at the top of your game. Jack’s other passion was flying. He was a very accomplished pilot. He and five of his friends purchased a 1956 Cessna 172 and he spent countless hours flying and, at times scarring the hell out of people, whether you were on the ground or in the plane. Jack and Viola raised four children: Julie (Stan) Roeder, Vickey (Steve Vaillant) Bennett, Holly (Orville) Kautz, and Joe (Marianne) Johnson. Five grandchildren: Amy Van Dermeer, Brett Bennett, Mandi Korpela, and Jack and Sam Johnson. Nine great grandchildren. Two great great grandchildren. Jack was preceded in death by his parents: Clarence and Evelyn Johnson, Wife Viola, twin daughters Barbara and Caroline, son-in-law Orville Kautz, son-in-law Gary Kjelland, brother Dayton Johnson, and sister Calley Grondahl, brother-in-law Donny Grondahl. Jack was a very loving (not touchy feely so much) and generous father and he was always there when you needed him. He took care of his family. Dad, we all will miss you. A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. with visitation starting at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, March 11, 2022, at Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center Fargo. Arrangements entrusted to the care of Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center, Fargo. To sign the online guestbook, go to

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  1. Our deepest sympathy to Jacks family. I had to chuckle when I read about being his partner in pinochle. Very true statement. I did enjoy many games of pinochle at Holly’s home. Jack was so sharpe and always figured out what cards everyone had. Dan and I have missed him not sitting by us at Bingo. May Jacks family find comfort from friends and family, and the greatest comfortor ever our Heavenly Father. Prayers coming your way.

  2. Jack will be missed by many! I have many fond memories of Jack and the family members when we lived not so far apart. My sincere sympathy to you all!

  3. Jack (and all the Johnson’s were great neighbors). I remember thinking Jack was so COOL because he delivered our mail in a Volkswagen Bug!
    Sending love and peace to all of the family.

  4. My dearest grandpa,
    You were a wonderful role model. So thankful for all the great memories with you! I will cherish our talks about life, politics, and news. (Although I often wonder if you were just agreeing with me to be nice or that you just didn’t hear what I was saying 🙂 We are all going to miss you so much.
    I love you,

  5. This life story captures Jack so well and reflects the colorful sense of humor I remember of the whole family. My sympathy to all of you. Another great legend of that generation has passed.

    All best for good memories,
    Lana Rakow

  6. It was always great seeing him at the Memorial Day celebration in Buffalo each year…thoughts and prayers to all.

  7. Condolences to all the Johnsons. I’ve sat here and reminisced about all the fun we had growing up. When you start down memory lane – it starts with Jack and Viola then Clarence and Evelyn and then all you kids! Thank goodness for all the fun and laughter I think of when your name comes up. Cherish those memories and hoping for comfort and peace for you all. It’s tough losing parents but the memories last forever.

  8. Jack & Vi were neighbors at Prairie Lake, & very good friends of my mom & husband Bud & Hazel Erickson. Wonderful fun people! My sympathy to Jack’s family. Karen Homan

  9. Julie, Vickie, Holly and Joe, I have such great memories of Jack and Viola sitting at the kitchen table at the farm: laughting and joking, coffee and always treats. Jack’s life truly reflects what that generation was made of, and the values they passed on to their families. I am so sad to hear of your Dad’s passing, but I can visualize your mom playing up a storm on the piano in Heaven and your Dad watching and smiling. May the good memories you hold in your hearts help in navigating this difficult time. Sending my thoughts and prayers, Carol Beaton

  10. So sorry for your loss. His legacy is in all the lives that he touched. There are many times when I am out fishing and share at least one Jack Johnson story with my friends. Such good memories!! May God bless you during these times.

  11. So sorry for the loss of Jack to all of the family. I have lots of memories at the lake with Jack and Viola. Thanks for being best roommate ever Jack in Puerto Rico🤪😘

  12. Julie, Vickey, Holly and Joe, so sorry to hear of the loss of your dad. Lots of good memories. Prayers and hugs to you…

  13. Uncle Jack was a great example of a life lived well!! He will be missed! Bless him and his family!

  14. So sorry for your loss. Jack was a great man with a big heart and he left a solid legacy behind. For the short time I got to know him and Vi they left me with some great memories. I am thankful for that. May God bless you as you mourn your loss.

  15. Hugs to your family from the Bill Grieve family.
    Jack was a special man. Admired father of a classmate (Holly) by Connie’s. Classmate with Bill Grieve and fellow Buffalo Flying Club member.
    So sorry we couldn’t be at the service.

  16. My most sincere condolences to all the Johnson family. So many wonderful memories of both your dad and mom. Your home was my second home because of their open and loving arms-and I will be forever grateful. Hang on to those memories as they never fade away.

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