Lighthouse 02

Elna Mildred Johnson

July 10, 1935 ~ February 28, 2024 (age 88) 88 Years Old

Elna Johnson Obituary

In loving memory of Elna Johnson

   Elna Mildred (Salo) Johnson, 88, beloved mother and grandmother, peacefully departed from this world of natural causes on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, at her home in Hillcrest Rehabilitation Center. Elna’s journey came to a close after a life devoted to compassion, care, and unconditional love. A private family service will be held at 1:00 P.M on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Waterville, MN. Inurnment will take place at a later date near Deer River, MN. Woodland Hills Funeral Home in Mankato is in charge of arrangements. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations to the Alzheimer’s Association in Elna’s honor.

   Elna was born on July 10th, 1935, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. She was the daughter of Otto and Ida (Heikkinen) Salo. She grew up on her family’s farm in a Finnish community called “Suomi.” She attended a country schoolhouse in Suomi through the 8th grade. Later, she attended Deer River High School. After high school, Elna went on to attend nurses training in Minneapolis where she earned her licensed practical nurse certificate.

   In 1956, Elna was united in marriage to Merlyn “Mert” Johnson at Pontoppidan Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. The couple resided in Minneapolis, MN, Fargo, ND, Grand Marais, MN, and Minnesota Lake, MN. They later moved to Waterville, MN where they raised their four children before moving to Fairmont where they enjoyed their retirement. Elna and Mert then moved to Truman Senior Living in Truman, MN and most recently, she lived at Hillcrest Rehabilitation Center in Mankato, MN.

  Elna’s call to nursing manifested early in life, shaping her into the compassionate caregiver she was known to be. With unwavering dedication, she embarked on a lifelong mission to alleviate suffering and bring comfort to those in need. Her nursing career spanned many years, during which she touched countless lives with her gentle touch and reassuring presence. Elna’s commitment to her profession extended far beyond the workday. In her fifties, she pursued her dream of opening a home for the elderly. She began by moving elderly patients into her own home and later purchased a second home right next door. She owned and operated a board and lodge called “Golden Era Homes” for 13 years until retirement. She approached each patient with empathy, treating not just the ailment but also the soul. Her selflessness and kindness were felt by all who crossed her path, earning her respect and admiration of employees, patients, and families alike. Her character truly resembled a light house, as she was a beacon of light for so many in need.

   Beyond her exemplary career in nursing, Elna’s most cherished role was that of a grandmother. She poured her boundless love and wisdom into the lives of her grandchildren, shaping them into the individuals they are today. She especially enjoyed the “little ones” and once shared that being a grandmother is “an overwhelming love you don’t think is possible.”

   Elna will be deeply missed by her loving family, including her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who were the center of her world. Her memory will be cherished by all who knew her, as she leaves behind a legacy of love, kindness, and service to others.

   Left to cherish her memory include her sons Jeri Johnson and his friend, Cindy Saddoris of Welcome, MN, and Jon Johnson and his wife, Katherine of Owatonna, MN; daughter, Jana Roemen and her husband, Terry of Ceylon, MN; 9 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and many other relatives and friends. Along with her husband, Merlyn Johnson, Elna is also preceded in death by her parents Otto and Ida Salo; brothers Walter, Marvin, Roy, and Melvin; sisters Ruth and Edna; son Joel Johnson and daughter-in-law Starla Johnson.

   As we bid farewell to our dear mother and grandmother let us take solace in knowing her spirit will live on in the countless lives she touched. May she rest in eternal peace, her legacy of love and compassion serving as a guiding light for generations to come.

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