Joyce N. Johnson of Racine went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus, in his eternal home in Heaven on December 22, 2022, at the age of 101. A funeral service has been scheduled for Wednesday, December 28th, at 11 a.m., at Stewartville United Methodist Church with Rev. Bridget Sheeley officiating. A time of visitation for family and friends will take place on Tuesday, December 27th, 5-7 p.m. at Griffin-Gray Funeral Home in Stewartville, MN and 1 hr. prior to the service at the church on Wednesday morning.
The son of Julius and Nora Johnson, Joyce was born July 20, 1921, in Hartland, MN at his grandparents’ farm, and later moved to Lemond, MN. When his father accepted a job as the manager of the Racine Creamery the family moved to Racine, MN. As a young boy, Joyce helped his dad with all aspects of running the creamery and became adept at everything from butter making to tending the boiler. His dad was an award-winning butter maker, whose butter was highly sought after as far away as Illinois; Joyce also became known for butter making skills which were comparable to his dad’s. Joyce attended school in Lemond before transferring to the Racine school and then to Stewartville for high school, graduating with the “39 students of the class of ‘39”. He was nicknamed “Einstein” by his classmates for his brilliant mind, especially in the areas of math and science. His favorite teacher was LePearl Bonner, the namesake of Stewartville’s Bonner Elementary.
After taking some aviation classes in Minneapolis, Joyce traveled to San Diego, CA to work at Consolidated Aircraft Corporation building B-24 Liberator bombers, already knowing that he wanted to be a pilot one day. When his father became ill, Joyce returned to take over operation of the creamery until his dad was well enough. WW II was starting, and Joyce wanted to serve his country and join the Army Air Corps, but a two-year college degree was required and Joyce had not attended college. While considering joining the Royal Canadian Air Force, the requirements for joining in the U.S. changed so acceptance could be granted if you could pass a test equivalent to 2 years of college, and Joyce did just that. He advanced through the steps to becoming a pilot. While waiting to be shipped overseas, the airmen attended condensed college courses at Ouachita College in Arkadelphia, AR. Due to his high grades, he was chosen to complete a crew, so he did not finish his schooling there. As part of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Joyce flew B-17 Flying Fortresses in combat missions in the European Theater, obtaining the rank of Captain. His combat unit had the distinction of dropping the very last bombs of WW II on Plzen Skoda Works in Czechoslovakia, which had become a German arsenal. Following the war, he stayed and participated in a mission to photograph all of Europe from the air for mapmaking purposes. He also served as a test pilot before returning to the States.
Upon returning home, Joyce worked as a carpenter and soon started his own milk hauling business. Years later he was asked to take over management of the Racine Creamery. After retiring from there, he drove truck for Rochester City Delivery. Joyce served on the Racine City Council for many years, and was an active member of the Racine United Methodist Church. Much of his workmanship can still be seen in the church building including the stained glass windows he helped install. An avid photographer, Joyce set up a dark room to develop his own film as a teenager.
Another of his favorite pastimes, roller-skating, led to him meeting his dear wife, Cora. They were married August 19, 1950. Making their home in Racine, they shared 65 years together before she passed away in 2015. The couple enjoyed square dancing and round dancing and were members of various square dancing clubs in the area. They were also avid Stewartville sports fans. They raised three children, Gary (Carol) Johnson of St. Paul, MN, Terry (Connie) Johnson of Grand Meadow, and Vicki (Gary) Hoover, of Racine, and enjoyed spending time with their six grandchildren who all grew up within a block of their home, as well as their great grandchildren.
In addition to his children Joyce is survived by his grandchildren, Andrew (Elin) Johnson, Mary (Richard) Moulding, Brian (Annette Anderson) Hoover, Jason (Lisa) Hoover, Isaac (Megan) Johnson, and Laura (Trevor) Wiles; 18 great grandchildren; a brother-in-law Charles Glarner and many nieces and nephews. Joyce was preceded in death by his wife – Cora, his parents, his brother and sister-in-law, Emmett and Marian Johnson; sister and brother-in-law, Mary Ann and Tom Tysseling; sister-in-law and brother-in-law , Helen and Clyde VanCleve; sister-in-law, Eunice Glarner; sister-in-law – Lorraine Neale and brother-in-law, James Neale.
Joyce's family would like to thank the outstanding staff members of Spring Valley Living and Seasons Hospice for the love and care they showed him each day.
A private family burial will take place at Hamilton Cemetery in rural Racine at a later date. Arrangements are with Griffin-Gray F.H. In Stewartville. Condolences and memories of Joyce are welcome at www.griffin-gray.com
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