James Johnson

James “Jim” H. Johnson, 85, of Waukon died peacefully Wednesday, September 30, 2020 at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon. Funeral services were held Saturday, October 10 at First Baptist Church in Waukon with Pastor Duane Smith officiating. A private burial with military honors was held at Oakland Cemetery, Waukon.

Condolences may be sent to Helen Johnson at 430 Fourth Street SE, Waukon, IA 52172. Martin-Grau Funeral Home in Waukon handled the arrangements.

James Harlan Johnson was born January 15, 1935 in Waukon, upstairs in the Waukon Greenhouse; he was the son of Harlan Jerome and Jean Marie (Kruger) Johnson. As a teenager, Jim was baptized in the Yellow River. In 1952, he graduated from Waukon High School and in the fall of 1953, Jim went to Bryan College in Dayton, TN. The first month he was there, with his blue eyes and motorcycle, Jim was able to woo Helen Henning. She was the love of his life and they married June 8, 1957 at Grace Brethren Church in Middlebranch, OH.

September 15, 1955, Jim started the Aviation Cadet Program for the U.S. Air Force in Harlingen, TX. December 13, 1956, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with Navigator Wings and was stationed at McGuire AFB in Fort Dix, NJ, from January 1956-61, as a navigator for the military air transport service (MATS), flying C-118s all over the Pacific and Europe. From 1961-65, Jim was Air Force active reserve and flew out of O’Hare in Chicago. At this time, he met lifelong friends from Wisconsin.

Following that, until 1972, he was still in the reserves, but flew out of Richards-Gebaur AFB in Kansas City, MO, with C-124s and C-130s in Vietnam and worldwide. Jim flew C-130s out of Minneapolis, MN from 1972-1978. In October 1978, Jim retired as a Lt. Colonel with over 9,000 hours of airtime and 23 years of service.
In 1961, he and Helen moved back to Waukon and they helped run the Waukon Greenhouse with Jim’s family, purchasing the business in 1964. Jim was renowned for his beautiful poinsettias and geraniums. Jim was active in the Society of Iowa Florists and was president for one year. In 2001, he and Helen retired.

Jim was also active in the Waukon Drill Team, which he helped form with other veterans, and was a member of the American Legion. He retained his private pilot license and belonged to the Waukon Flying Club. At Grace Fellowship Church in Decorah, Jim was in leadership and a shepherd; he and Helen were currently attending First Baptist Church in Waukon.

He was very passionate about his Harley “Galloping Gerty” and took many motorcycle rides. He was awarded a 25,000 mile club membership by Harley-Davidson. Also, Jim biked in RAGBRAI for five years. He and Helen enjoyed traveling all over the country and he liked the outdoors, camping, elk and deer hunting, and was an avid reader. Jim was a very loyal person and was very encouraging and loyal to his family. Jim went home to be with the Savior he loved; it was very important to him to know his family’s salvation.

Jim is survived by his wife, Helen, of Waukon; his children: Sherrie (Gil) Hunstad of Waukon, Scott (Noreen) Johnson of New Holstein, WI, Chad (Cheryl) Johnson of Richfield, MN and Heather (Cary) Hermanson of Waukon; his grandchildren: Josh (Stephanie) Hunstad, Lisa (Travis) Drehmel, Caleb (Laura Sorenson) Hunstad, Matt Quandahl, Tara (Mike) McMullen, Alyssa (Nick) Wong, Brett Hermanson, Adam (Christine) Johnson, Luke Hermanson and Caryssa Hermanson; 10 great-grandchildren; two half-sisters, Debbie Sickels and Diane Johnson; a half-brother, Dave Johnson; and a sister-in-law, Charlotte (Tom) Horney. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Jim’s grandchildren served as casketbearers. Online condolences may be left at www.martinfunerals.com.

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