David Leon Johnson, 74, Detroit Lakes, passed away on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, at M Heath Fairview Medical Center in Minneapolis. His daughter and son-in-law were at his side.
David was born October 12, 1948, the only child of Kenneth O. and M. Jeanette (Jacobson) Johnson in Aberdeen, SD.
He was baptized at Bethlehem Lutheran Church on November 21, 1948 and remained active in church his entire life. In his early years, Dave loved spending time working on cars with his dad, and spending time at both of his grandparent’s farms.
In high school, Dave began working as a cook at the Holiday Inn in Aberdeen and never put down the spatula.
He graduated high school in 1966 and took classes at Northern where he met the love of his life, Janice Rae (Johnson). He sold his VW Karmann Ghia convertible to buy her an engagement ring and the two were united in marriage on October 25th, 1969. Dave entered the US Navy and was stationed in Bremerton, Long Beach, and San Diego where he served two tours in Vietnam.
Dave and Jan welcomed three children; Daniel, born in 1970, Eric, born in 1977 and passed away three short days later, and Kristina, born in 1980.
Dave was an Executive Chef for Frontier Enterprises which included Holiday Inns in Fergus Falls, Alexandria, and Eveleth, where he was at the longest. Dave grew many lasting friendships. Frontier Enterprises moved him and his family to Detroit Lakes in 1983 after they purchased Erie Jr.
He owned and/or operated for a time The Port Authority, Big O’s, and The Becker. He served as the Food Service Director at Young Life’s Castaway Club from 1988 to 2003 and grew many great relationships. He was grateful being able to serve God using his gifts. He also enjoyed helping out at Pathways Bible Camps – at Camp Emmaus and at Lake of the Woods Bible Camp.
Dave was active, especially in the kitchen, at First Lutheran Church. He later made freezer meals to give to people who came to the church. Dave was particularly thankful for Mackenzie Hamm who gave him four more years of life after giving him life-saving CPR in the church kitchen.
Dave loved going on road trips, cruises, and attending concerts, first with his wife Jan, and later with his daughter Kris. He could often be seen cruising around town in his convertible, jamming to Elton John or Brandi Carlile and likely wearing a tie-dyed shirt.
He leaves behind a legacy of love, humor, funny hats, adventures, and delicious food.
Survived by children: Daniel (Dayna) Johnson - Suffolk, VA, and Kristina (Justin) Dernier - Glyndon; grandchildren: Matthew (Linda Singh) Johnson – US Air Force, Tristan Johnson – Suffolk, VA and Alexander and Danielle Dernier – Titusville, FL; as well as brother-in-law, David M. Johnson - Dilworth; and sister-in-law, Terrie (Stephen) Wold – Moorhead; nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, and friends.
Dave was preceded in death by his wife, Janice; son, Eric Lee; parents, grandparents.
The visitation for Dave will be Monday, June 12, 2023 from 5 to 7 PM at WEST-KJOS FUNERAL HOME (900 Summit Avenue, Detroit Lakes, MN, 56501). A prayer service will close out the evening at 7 PM. Visitation continues Tuesday, June 13, 2023 from 12 to 12:45 PM at FIRST LUTHERAN CHURCH (912 Lakes Avenue, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501). The funeral service will be held at 1 PM with Pastor Joe Skogmo officiating. Following a lunch and reception, final rest with full military honors will be at Oak Grove Cemetery, Detroit Lakes.