Helen L. Johnson -- Rochester

June 11, 2017 GMT

Helen Laurane Johnson, 96, of Rochester, passed peacefully on April 29, 2017, at Charter House in Rochester.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 17, at Zumbro Lutheran Church, 624 Third Ave. SW, Rochester, the Rev. Jason Bryan-Wegner officiating. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the service, Saturday at the church.

Helen Laurane Berglund was born on Aug. 27, 1920, in Willmar, Minn., to Werner and Elphy (Nelson) Berglund. She grew up in Pennock, Minn., and graduated from Willmar High School in 1938. She worked as office manager at Gamble-Robinson in Willmar after high school. Helen graduated with a degree in education from St. Cloud State University in 1948.

On Aug. 7, 1948, she married Raymond A.E. Johnson, a WWII veteran and a Navy medical corpsman, active 1939-1947. They lived in Lake Johanna, Minn. Helen was an eighth-grade teacher in Lake Johanna (Roseville) until Raymond graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy in 1951. He became the chief pharmacist at Glenwood Hills Hospital in Golden Valley, and they moved to Robbinsdale, Minn.

They had two children, Ruth E. Johnson and Daniel R. Johnson. Helen resumed teaching as a long-term substitute in Brooklyn Center, Robbinsdale and Minneapolis Public Schools. She was a dedicated mother and gave the gift of encouragement to her own children and the children of many friends and family.

The family was very active in Calvary Lutheran Church of Golden Valley.

In the fall of 1968, Raymond became one of the first Minnesotans whose life was extended by the new treatment of hemodialysis. In February 1970, at age 51, Ray died of complications of his kidney failure.

A widow at age 49, Helen began a second career. She was licensed in long-term health care administration. After working at Trevilla of Golden Valley and Robbinsdale, she began in February 1976, a significant and successful career as executive vice president of the Thro Company. She presided over the administration of six skilled nursing homes including Summit Manor in St. Paul, Mala Strana in New Prague and four in the Mankato area — Hillcrest, Oaklawn, Mankato House and Lake Crystal.

As administrator Helen was involved in personnel, budget, union negotiation and lobbying in the state Legislature. She was a passionate advocate for their residents. She was a Fellow in the American College of Nursing Home Administrators. She retired in August 1990 at the age of 70.

In retirement, she resided at Centennial Lakes in Edina. She was active at Normandale Lutheran Church. There she met and married in August 2003, a widower and retired Lutheran pastor, the Rev. Robert Nelson. They resided in Edina for many years and later joined Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

In April 2011, Helen and Robert, now in their 90′s moved to Charter House in Rochester. They enjoyed an active life there and joined Zumbro Lutheran Church. In January 2013, Robert died of complications of a stroke.

Helen enjoyed travel, entertaining, holidays and dogs. She was active in the American Swedish Institute and was proud of her Swedish heritage.

Helen is survived by her children, Dr. Ruth Johnson (Phil Quanbeck II), of Rochester, and Daniel Johnson, of Boston; and stepson, John Nelson, of Barnesville, Minn.

She was preceded in death by her husbands, Raymond A.E. Johnson (1970) and Robert Nelson (2013); and her parents, Werner and Elphy Berglund.

She is survived also by two granddaughters, Erika Johnson Konover (Donny) and Jennifer Johnson Shinpaugh, both of Boston; and three great-grandchildren, Avery, Paige and Christopher Konover. She is also survived by a beloved cousin, Margaret (Peg) Ogland.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, June 17, at Zumbro Lutheran Church, one hour prior to the service. A reception lunch follows immediately after the service. Burial will be 1 p.m. Sunday, June 18, at Fairview Cemetery in Willmar, Minn.

Memorials are preferred to Zumbro Lutheran Church and Augsburg College.

Arrangements are with Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home in Rochester, Minn.

5421 Royal Place NW, Rochester, MN 55901; www.ranfranzandvinefh.com.