US Army

Gayle R. Johnson

December 4, 1933 ~ January 7, 2021 (age 87)



Gayle Roy Johnson, 87 of Winona and formerly of Bloomington, MN, died at his home in the loving care of family on January 7, 2021 after a short illness. 

Gayle was born on December 4, 1933 in Willmar, MN to Axel and Alice (Jordin) Johnson. Gayle entered the world weighing in at a whopping 12 lbs and was born just one day before the end of Prohibition. He was the youngest of eight children. 

Gayle grew up on 20 acres in Willmar along with his older siblings that he adored so much. He loved the country and always enjoyed sharing stories of his treasured years in Willmar. 

In 1951, Gayle left Willmar with his parents. They moved to Minneapolis, MN and Gayle began his long career with Archer Daniels Midland as a grain sampler. He retired in 1995 after 44 years with ADM.  

Gayle served in the United States Army from 1956 - 1958 and was stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas and was honorably discharged. 

Gayle and the love of his life, Diane Julia Dietz were united in marriage on February 12, 1961. They enjoyed 41 years together before Diane died in December 2002. This year they would have celebrated 60 years of marriage. To this union, three children were born: Jeffrey, Michelle, and Pamela. 

In 2008, Gayle moved to the beautiful town of Winona and lived with his youngest daughter and her family. He was quite active and quickly began to know the area and made new friends. In fact, many of the friends he made were friends of his daughters. 

Gayle who liked to be called “GR” or Grandpa” enjoyed the simple things in life. He will always be remembered for his love of coffee, trains, football, baseball, car rides, gospel, and county music, camping in Chetek and many get-togethers with family and friends and so much more. He enjoyed traveling with his wife Diane and that love of traveling continued with his daughters. Gayle had a great sense of humor. 

Gayle was a long-time member of Minnehaha United Methodist Church in Minneapolis and Hillcrest United Methodist Church in Bloomington. 

Gayle is survived by his loving daughters: Michelle (Rodney) Moats of Mondovi, WI; and Pamela Spencer of Winona, MN; grandchildren: Aaron Blomdahl, Kayla (Justin) Davis, Alex Spencer, Julia Moats, Jena (Matt) Miller, Kristine (Justin Barbee) Moats; great-grandchildren: Jackson Hookom, Kendall Keith, Jolene Davis, Tyler and Hayden Miller and Wyatt Barbee. Gayle is also survived by his brother-in law: Dr. David (Flo) Dietz; his nephews, nieces, and many dear friends. 

Gayle was preceded in death by his parents, newborn son Jeffrey, wife Diane, and his siblings: Harriet, Helen, Howard, Richard, Loren, Katherine, an infant sister Elaine, sister-in-law, Judith Dietz; and a grandson-in-law, Dustin Keith. 

It was Gayle’s wish to be cremated. Gayle will have full military honors at Fort Snelling National Cemetery and a celebration of his life is being planned for later in the spring. 

Gayle will always be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandpa, great grandpa, uncle, and friend to many and he will be deeply missed by all those who knew and loved him. Thank you to all who were so kind and loving to our dad. It means so much to us.

We would like to thank Winona Health Clinic, Winona Area Hospice, and especially Dr. Forsyth for the compassionate care given to our father. Also, many special thanks to Tracy Williamson and to Vickie Blong both of Winona for their extra love and devotion to Gayle. 

Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home in Winona is assisting the family with arrangements and to express condolences online, please visit 

In lieu of flowers and donations, memorials may be given in memory of Gayle’s name to your local Animal Humane Association.


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