Anita Johnson

There is mischief in her pleasant smile:

Anita “Nita” Johnson age 73, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, passed away quietly in the early morning hours of March 20, 2019 at the Good Samaritan Center in Lennox, SD.

A celebration of her life will be at 11am Monday, March 25, in the Celebrate Center at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, SD. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Liberal Arts Endowed Internship Fund at the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Denver.

She was born on March 10, 1946 to Arlo and Edna (Styles) Johnson in Vermillion, SD. At a young age, Nita was diagnosed with polio. She spent many days at the Sioux Valley Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls for therapy, coming home more determined than ever that life would not slow her down. She refused to be thought of as anything but Nita.

She graduated from Meckling High School in May 1964 and embarked on a life that is anything but boring. She moved to Vermillion that summer and started taking classes at the University of South Dakota. After a few years she decided she needed to move on. At 24, she packed up her 1966 Mustang and headed to Colorado. Her plan was to stay and work a few years and then move on to San Diego. That move did not happen. She spent the next 37 years in Denver working at the University of Denver. She loved working at DU and it showed in the friendships she made there. Her work-study students were a second family to her; she mentored them and advised them on all of life’s changes.

While at the University of Denver she received her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Master’s degree in Liberal Studies.

She retired in 2008 and moved back to South Dakota to be close to family.

She enjoyed doing her family’s genealogy, asking her brothers for swabs and trying to determine where our Grandfather Johnson came from; that was indeed her mystery to solve. Her love of books showed throughout her house and she was active in the Book Club she belonged to at Our Saviors. She was always up for a concert; she loved music and was a regular at the Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Concert Series. Nita was an ardent protector of the Yellowstone wolves and cheered on her Denver Broncos for every game.

She belonged to Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls and was a Stephen Minister for the church. She recently became a member of the Falls of the Rappahannock, Fredericksburg, Virginia, Daughters of the American Revolution. Nita also was an active member in the National Women’s Political Caucus and helped on many of the campaigns in the area.

Nita touched many lives in her 73 years. She stood up for the little guy, made sure that everyone had a place at the table and had a roof over their head when needed. We joked with her that her home was a Bed and Breakfast.

Grateful for having shared her life are her siblings: Chuck (Jan) Johnson, Sioux City, Iowa, Rico Johnson (Kimberley Stockinger) Sioux Falls, Sonja Johnson, Fredericksburg, Virginia, her fur baby Kota Bear. Her nieces and nephews: Steve Johnson, Colorado, Jodee (Dean) Swanger, Sioux City, Kris Johnson (Anthony Irvine) Beavercreek, Minnesota, Chad (Jamie) Wagner, Omaha, Nebraska, Sarah (Ty) Harangody, Kansas City Missouri, Trevor Johnson, Burnsville, Minnesota. Ten Great Nieces and Nephews, Melissa (Philip), Samantha, Breanna, Michael (Ashlie), Morgan, Brandon, Brooke, Brady, Ted, Cate and one Great Great Nephew, William. Special Friend, David Kang, Tokyo Japan, and so many other relatives and friends.

She is preceded in death by her parents, and one brother, Jeff Johnson.

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