James Johnson

James Albert Johnson, 78, died early in the morning on October 11, 2016, at the Ruthven Community Care Center in Ruthven, IA. He was born on June 12, 1938, in Pomeroy, WA, to Russel and Agnes Johnson. Returning to South Dakota shortly thereafter, the family lived on a ranch on the White River near Presho. Later they moved to Winner and Murdo, where Jim graduated from high school in 1956. He attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, completing his bachelor’s degree in 1960. After teaching school for the next four years in Sioux Falls and in Martin, SD, Jim continued his education at the USD School of Law in Vermillion, followed by earning a graduate law degree (LLM) from the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, MI. Then he returned to Vermillion to join the faculty of the law school.

While in Michigan, Jim met his future wife, Carolyn Kauper; they were married on June 17, 1972, at Zion Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor. They lived in Vermillion, for the next 37 years, where Jim taught at USD and later opened his own law office. They have two sons, Eric and Paul. Jim was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church and served on the Church Council and as president of the congregation. He also served on the City Council and was a member of Rotary Club. For several summers he ran the Battle Creek Lodge, a bed-and-breakfast lodge in Keystone, SD.

In 2009, Jim and Carolyn retired to Spirit Lake, IA, an area they had been visiting regularly for a long time. Jim became a member of Grace Lutheran Church there and served on its Church Council. He also volunteered at the Renew/Reclaim Building Materials store. Jim suffered a massive stroke in 2012, leaving his left side paralyzed. He spent his remaining years in nursing homes, most of the time at the Good Samaritan Society in Estherville, IA. Throughout his life, Jim enjoyed reading, visiting with friends (and strangers), watching political news, and spending time with his family and dogs.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Russel and Agnes Johnson. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, of Spirit Lake, IA; his sons, Eric (Nicole) of Sioux Falls, and Paul (Jennifer) of Brookfield, WI; and his four grandchildren, Emma Salzwedel and Harper Johnson of Sioux Falls, and Joshua and Samuel Johnson of Brookfield, WI.

A memorial service is being planned for 11 a.m., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, at Grace Lutheran Church in Spirit Lake, IA. Gifts/memorials may be sent to Grace Lutheran Church for the general fund or the defibrillator project.