Farming Rural 13

Merlin Kenneth Johnson

April 2, 1933 ~ January 3, 2020 (age 86)


Merlin Kenneth Johnson, 86, of Pennock, died Friday, January 3rd at Amara Hospice in Edinburg, TX. His memorial service will be 3:00 pm, Saturday, January 11th at Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar. Visitation will be from 5-7:00 pm, Friday at the funeral home and continue one hour prior to his service. Burial will be in Clover Leaf Cemetery in Willmar.


Merlin Kenneth Johnson was born on April 2, 1933, to Melvin and Katie (Ruter) Johnson in Willmar, Minnesota and passed away at Amara Hospice in Edinburg, Texas on January 3, 2020. Merlin went to school in Willmar, St. Cloud and Kerkhoven, graduating from Kerkhoven High School in 1952.


Merlin took over the family farm when he was 18 years old after his dad passed away unexpectedly. He was hard working, always looking to make improvements on the farm and kept everything neat and tidy. He also worked at the Pennock Creamery, the Kandiyohi Creamery and was a substitute mail carrier driving the mail to Minneapolis.


On August 25, 1956, Merlin married Martha Portinga at the Church of God in Willmar. They worked together on their dairy farm, raised four children and enjoyed 55 years together until Martha passed away on November 1, 2011. Their winters were spent in Edinburg, Texas. Merlin reconnected with his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth Peterson Oberg, in 2012 and they were married on June 29, 2016. They continued going to Texas each year and arrived for Merlin’s last trip to Texas on December 15th. He enjoyed the warmth of Texas and the many friendships created there over the past 30 years. Merlin was known for his love of cars, motorcycles, speed, farming, his John Deere tractors and his Skaag lawn mower.


Merlin is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; his four children: Tim (Julie) Johnson, Perry Johnson, Suzanne (Mike) Steinhaus and Julie (Bruce) Luepke; nine grandchildren: Caryn (Danny) McGeary, Stephanie (Tom) O’Leary, Dustin (Kari) Johnson, Kristi (Justin) Bracelin, Kevin (Bre) Steinhaus, Aaron Doraska, Adam (Mackenzie) Doraska, Jenna DeLair, and Jessica DeLair; 12 great-grandchildren; and sister; Lorraine Bluhm. He is also survived by his two stepdaughters: Cindy (Rich) Barham and Jeanne Noreen; step grandchildren: Grant (Paige) Noreen, Cole Noreen, Liz Barham, and Allie Barham and two step great-grandchildren.


He was preceded in death by his first wife, Martha, his parents and sisters, Sharon Triden and Arlene Engel and brother-in-law, Robert Bluhm.   

To send flowers to Merlin's family, please visit our floral store.


January 10, 2020

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar
1000 19th Ave SW
Willmar, MN 56201

Memorial Service
January 11, 2020

3:00 PM
Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar
1000 19th Ave SW
Willmar, MN 56201

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