Virgil Clark Johnson passed away peacefully with family by his side Saturday August 8th, 2020 at the age of 95. A memorial service will be held at a later date to allow friends and family to celebrate Virgil’s life.
Virgil was born in Spencer, NE on November 19, 1924 to Elmer Johnson and Martha (Ellwanger), and spent the majority of his youth in Gregory, SD working on the family farm and attending school. He graduated from Gregory HS in 1942 and attempted to enlist in the military during the peak of World War II, however, he was turned away due to medical conditions and returned to work on the family farm. As the Korean War began in 1950, Virgil once again attempted to enlist in the military and this time was accepted. He went on to serve in combat operations abroad from 1950-1952 with the “Cotton Balers” of the 7th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. Corporal Virgil Johnson received the Combat Infantryman Badge and was honorably discharged from the Army in 1952.
Virgil’s military service allowed him the opportunity to attend Black Hills Teachers College where he graduated in 1958. It was during the summer breaks when Virgil would return from Black Hills Teacher’s College that he met the love of his life and wife of 57 years, Deanna Lillebo. He continued his education at Northern State University earning his master’s degree in Guidance Counselling. Virgil began his teaching career in Mountain Home, ID where he’d spend the next thirty years positively impacting the lives of countless students as a teacher and counsellor. His students loved him, and he loved his students. Virgil retired in 1987 and enjoyed his free time completing Deanna’s to-do lists, “selling cars” at Ole’s Auto, golfing, reading, playing cards with his friends, and taking care of his daughters Sonja and Mindy.
In 1999 Virgil and Deanna moved back to Presho, SD to be close to their many family and friends in the area. During these years he enjoyed raising his granddaughter Rian, playing cards, getting coffee at Hutch’s, hosting family during pheasant season, and making his annual peanut brittle batch for family and friends.
His love for his daughters Sonja and Mindy was absolute and the joy they brought him profound. This love carried over to his grandchildren Caleb, Rian, Levi, Summer, and Wyatt who will miss him greatly.
Virgil leaves to mourn: his wife Deanna, daughters Sonja and Mindy, son-in-law Joshua Luck and grandchildren Caleb, Rian, Levi, Summer, and Wyatt. He was the second oldest of nine siblings and is survived by Cecil, Robert (Beth), Berle, and Barbara (Chuck) Matson; sister-in-law Hazel Johnson; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Derald and Dean; sisters Glenice Brown and Lorraine King; and sisters-in-law Helen Johnson and Turp Johnson.
Virgil was blessed with a contagious joy for life and an exceptional mind, both of which were present until he passed. “Virge” will be missed greatly. We celebrate his life with us and now his presence with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The family will direct memorials to the Presho American Lutheran Church or to the Virgil Johnson Education Scholarship. Both can be sent to PO Box 332 Presho, SD 57568.