- About Us
Ralph D JohnsonAugust 6, 1921 ~ December 28, 2017 (age 96)
Ralph D. Johnson was born August 6, 1921 and died December 28, 2017. Ralph was born to Roy and Wanda (Cooper) Johnson in an upstairs bedroom on the family farm north of Casselton, ND. He attended school in Casselton and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1939.
He enrolled at North Dakota Agricultural College in 1939 and was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. He got the nickname “Rufus” (or simply “Rufe”) due to his red hair.
A talented athlete, Ralph was a halfback for the Bison football team during the 1940 and 1941 seasons until the onset of WWII. He entered the Army and served in the 5322 Headquarters Company Southeast Asia Command stationed in Kandy, Ceylon from July 1942 to February 1946.
Upon his return, he re-enrolled at NDAC and played another season of football. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science from the School of Agriculture in 1948, he began farming with his father Roy.
Most importantly, Ralph married Alice Ingeborg Larson in 1948. They raised their family on the farm and, for 39 years, were the third generation to occupy the family homestead established in 1877. He and Alice retired in 1987 and celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary in 1998. Alice died in 2005.
He was an enthusiastic supporter of Bison football. When selected as Bison Booster of the Year in 1985, he figured that he had only missed three Bison games since graduation…he only missed games when he couldn’t find someone to run the combine during soybean harvest (he listened on the radio)! Ralph attended his last game in person at the age of 94, but loyally continued to follow the team. His three brothers, Frank, Harry, and Roy, also played football for the Bison.
Ralph believed in service to the community. He served as the Casselton school board president during the construction of the elementary building and was a Casselton Township Supervisor for 34 years. He was a Life Member of the American Legion and VFW, secretary of the China-Burma-India reunion committee, Military Honor Guard, and Elks Club.
Rufe was a founding member of the Maple River Golf Club (he mentioned that members bought shares, but no one ever got their money back) and played a good game with his single adjustable club. He was a Life Member of the Casselton Fire Department and was an elder and member of Westminster Presbyterian Church for 80 years.
He loved airplanes and airshows. He built and flew radio-controlled airplanes for many years and was a keen member of the Dakota Skymasters, the Valley Flyers, and the Fargo Air Museum as well as being a daytime resident of the Casselton Airport. He was also interested in auto racing and regularly attended local sprint car races as well as the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400.
He was a person that genuinely liked people and people liked him. His philosophy was “You won’t have a long life if you don’t laugh…and mostly at yourself.”
He is survived by three daughters, Vicki Johnson, Fargo, Barbara (Bill) Baumgartner, Breckenridge, MN, Lisa Johnson, Fargo; a son Ralph Jr., Casselton, ND; a sister, Margaret Wasche, Fargo; and a sister-in-law Louise Johnson, West Fargo. The family would like to thank Bob Miller for his steadfast friendship.
In lieu of a formal memorial service, a remembrance gathering will be held on Thursday, Jan 11, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., in the TenPas Fellowship Hall at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Casselton, ND. Bring a memory to share!
Burial will be in the Casselton Cemetery.
West Funeral Home & Life Tribute Center