Dennis E. Johnson

August 12, 1944 ~ May 4, 2020 (age 75)



Dennis E. Johnson, age 75, of Winona, was born August 12, 1944 in Lanesboro, Minnesota, and passed away peacefully at the Winona Health Hospital with his loving wife by his side on May 4, 2020.

Dennis is survived by his wife, Chris Johnson; son, Ron Johnson (Terese Brown); two daughters: Sheila Johnson (Jeff Link) and Tarrie Hornberg (Todd); grandchildren: Shae Tenhouse-Johnson, Abby Tenhouse-Johnson, Taylor Bublitz, Chelsea Merchlewitz, Karley (Brady Brink), Hunter Hornberg, and Orian Hornberg; great-grandchildren, Keelyn and Dryver Brink; brother Dale (Kelly) Johnson; and numerous other family members. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Tina Johnson (who died 18 days before him); parents, Edward and Georgia Johnson; his brothers Duane and Glen Johnson; and his sister Lorraine Steinfeldt.

Dennis was a decorated Vietnam veteran honorably serving 15 years in the Army. Dennis completed three tours of duty in Vietnam; two tours at Camp Pelham, South Korea; and one tour at Fort Riley, KS; Fort Stewart, GA; Johnson Barracks, Nuremberg, Germany; and Fort Lewis, WA. His specialties were primary equipment repairer and mechanic. He earned a full array of ribbons, decorations, and medals including the marksmanship ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Combat Infantry Badge.

After serving in the military, Dennis worked as a mechanic and semi truck driver for 15 years with Bob Brink Incorporated. He mainly drove routes delivering freight to the east coast, and he loved being on the road. His boss and coworkers spoke highly of his strong work ethic, dedication, and friendship.

Dennis was a family man, a role model, and an inspiration for his courage, selflessness, loyalty, sacrifice, unconditional love, friendship, and an incredible work ethic. He and Chris were married for more than 49 years and had four children. He was a man of strong ethics and character who led by example and taught his children and others: family and love are most important; all that really matters is the well being of the people in your life; if you want something, you have to work hard to earn it; happiness is everything; and the importance of living simply and not placing too much value on material items. Dennis is said to have 20 lives, as he cheated death countless times in Vietnam and by miraculously pulling through numerous life-threatening illnesses, and everyone was blessed to have extra time with him because of it.

Dennis had a great sense of humor and enjoyed having fun, spreading joy, and making others smile and laugh. He would refer to himself as always being full of wit and good humor. Dennis loved to joke around about his thick head of curly hair and about how he liked to think that he was “the boss”, but only when his wife wasn’t home. He’d say every time that you visited even if you just saw him yesterday, “Where’ve you been, I haven’t seen you for three years!” And those nicknames that he gave others were gems such as Big Boy, Bag of Bones, Buckwheat, Sassy, Big O, Sweet Pea, Farm Boy, Crusher, and Little Rosie.

Dennis was a kind, sweet, awesome, and caring man, husband, son, dad, brother, grandpa, friend, and coworker who would do anything for his family and friends. He was generous and always showed concern for others by asking about their welfare and helping them. Furthermore, Dennis enjoyed playing cribbage, reading the paper, completing newspaper crossword puzzles, and having dinners, BBQs, and gatherings with family and friends. You could count on him to invite you to his table. Dennis also was a child and dog whisperer, as children and dogs instantly trusted and were drawn to him. Lastly, Dennis enjoyed older model classic cars, listening to old country music, and watching news and murder mystery shows.

A special thanks to Dr. Locher and the rest of his caregivers and medical personnel at the Veterans Hospitals in Tomah, LaCrosse, and Madison; Gunderson Lutheran Hospital; and Winona Memorial Hospital.

A combined memorial service will be held for Dennis and his daughter Tina at a later date when it is safe to do so.

Dennis loved his family and friends, and we will love and miss him dearly. He spread his wisdom freely, and it will continue to guide others for generations to come. Dennis left a huge void in our lives, and we will hold him forever close in our hearts. Rest easy, find peace, be pain free, spread your wings, and fly high Dennis!

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