Verna Hellen (Rutanen) Johnson

Verna Hellen (Rutanen) Johnson died, December 7, 2019 , in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Verna was born to Kaarlo Oscar Rutanen and Emmi Sofia Hovila in Virginia, Minnesota on January 10, 1924. She attended school in Suomi until 8th grade and graduated from Grand Rapids in 1941.

Verna went to New York City in 1943 to become the nanny of Sir Thomas and Lady Beecham’s son. Sir Thomas and Lady Beecham wanted her to come with them to England, but Verna returned to Suomi. Verna married Gerhard (Boy) Johnson on December 31, 1945. In 1947 they went into business for themselves in Deer River. Over the course of 32 years, they owned the Texaco Gas Station, Deer River Woolen & Gift Store, Wagon Wheel Steak House and A&W Root Beer Drive-in. In her earlier years Verna was a regular at the ‘High Hat’ club and danced the night away. She traveled the country and went to Finland to see her relatives. She enjoyed singing, playing piano and the accordion. She also loved playing cards, whether she won or lost.

She is survived by her children, Steven Edward Johnson, Pamela Jean (Fr. Ken) Toven and Susan Lelonek; grandchildren, Richard Lee (Meranda) Lelonek, Shawn Blake (Beth) Lelonek, Damien Francis (Violetta) Toven, Kipp (February) Johnson and Aaron (Susie) Johnson; great-grandchildren, Maya (Hans) Hagen, Kali Jo, Kassi and Jake (Jaime) Lelonek, Mikaela, Chelsea, Lexis, Jay, Jake, Zoey and Peighton Lelonek, Geraldine, Cassandra and Hannah Toven; great-great grandchildren, William, Raelynn, Emma, Ella, Bentley, Avery, Braxton; and sister, Judy (Jack) Mann.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Kaarlo Oscar Rutanen and Emmi Sophia (Hovila) Rutanen, brother Ernest Rutanen and son Richard Lee Johnson.

Visitation will be on Thursday, December 12, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. at Carroll Funeral Home, Deer River, MN with the service following there at 1:00 p.m. Burial will be at the Pine Ridge Cemetery, Deer River, MN following the service.

A special thanks to Hospice for taking such good care of Verna during her journey. They were such a help for the many months that she was ill. Hospice is for the living, not of the dying!! Not all people who are on hospice, die, many live and leave hospice!!

Arrangements by Carroll Funeral Home, Deer River & Bigfork, Minnesota.

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