Irene May Johnson, 90, of Ely, MN, died Dec. 19, 2020. She was a resident of assisted living for a year when she contracted coronavirus, and died after a short illness.
She was born in Hibbing, MN to Impi Sofia (Koivisto) and Verner Isaac Peterson. She graduated Hibbing HS in 1947. She attended Hibbing Junior College. She married Roger W. Johnson in 1949. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2019.
Irene is survived by her daughters, Susan Johnson (Daniel Arnold), Becky Johnson, and
Jody Johnson (David Paluch). Other close family members are Darrel and Rosemary Johnson,
Lowell Johnson, Kimberly Haug, and Cathy Bogolub. She is also survived by 7 grandchildren, and one great granddaughter.
Irene loved living in the north woods, at the lake. She planned many family canoe trips into the Boundary Waters before she and Roger retired to live in Ely in 1981. She liked people and was a community leader and contributor, volunteering her time in every community she lived in, working at food pantries, women’s shelters, and in other organizations to help disadvantaged people. She and Roger were active members and supporters of the Ely Golf Course, where she was an excellent golfer. She was an accomplished weaver. She worked at SISU Designs in Ely for several years.
She grew up on the Iron Range where her Finnish and Swedish immigrant parents were part of the Finnish community that founded Mesaba Park near Hibbing. She spoke Finnish and English in her family home, and was happy to travel to meet her extended family in Sweden and Finland.
She was intelligent, almost fearless, funny and kind-hearted. She was a great mom. She loved cats.
Irene was preceded in death by her husband, Roger, her parents, two brothers, Walfred and Michael, one sister, Marion, and her aunt, Lempi Kojo, who cared for her family after her mother died.
Ely friends and neighbors generously offered their help to Irene, Toni Mitchell, Paul and Marisa Haraldson, and Mary Louise Icenhour. The nursing care staff at Aurora Carefree Living gave her excellent care.
A private memorial will be planned when that can safely be arranged.
Family arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.
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