GRANT (FATS) JOHNSON
Feb. 29, 1916 - July 1, 2014
Grant passed away in Maitland, Fla., on July 1, with three of his daughters at his side.
Grant was born in Two Harbors, Minn., on Feb. 29th, 1916, to Victor and Anna Johnson. Grant had five siblings - John, Axel, Karen Ann, Carl and Margaret. Along with his wife, the former Kathlyn Beecroft, all preceded him in death.
Grant loved his hometown of Two Harbors. For over 50 years, Grant organized the reunion classes of 1931-1934 and the Jock conventions in Minneapolis. He never missed the Two Harbor's Heritage Days and a chance to ride in the parade with his friends.
His passion was to go back to Two Harbors and be a kid again. He would agate hunt with his golf club and later on his cane to find those precious stones. One of his school janitors developed an agate drum that polished the stones so he could make jewelry.
For many years, he wrote for the Lake Chronicle under the name of Fats Johnson about growing up in Two Harbors in the 1920's and 1930's. Recently, one of those articles was republished.
Dad's love of the YMCA had a special meaning over the years. The director of the YMCA in Two Harbors would open up the gym so the basketball players could have extra practice time. Grant never forgot that special act.
When he became a Supt of Schools, he followed suit and opened the gym for the basketball team on week-ends so that they could have all the time they needed to hone their skills.
Grant had a special affection for the Edna G. He had a model Edna G. tugboat and donated his special 1920's Edna G picture to the library.
In 2008, his last trip up to Two Harbors, he wanted to see the Edna G. one last time. It happened to be the first time that there were tours open on the tugboat.
You guessed it. He ended up being the tour guide. He was one of a few youngsters growing up that was able to ride on that tugboat with the skipper.
Later on in life, he not only gave computers to the Two Harbor's library, but he wrote a book called the "Good ole Days," with all the proceeds going to the library. Next time you want to learn about your town, pull that book from the library shelf.
One cute story about the library was one summer Grant was asked by the Historical Society to go through their old pictures from the 1930's to identify numerous towns people.
Grant was going so fast and furious naming off the towns people and even spelling those difficult Scandinavian names, that the girl had to tell him to stop while she went to get a recorder. But what was even more amazing was that he knew all of their nicknames.
Grant loved to say that all obits should have the person's nickname as that is how they were known - thus his nickname of Fats - which he says he got because he was 12 lbs when he was born
Grant attended Gustavus Adolphus and then transferred to the University of Minnesota where he played with the University of Minnesota Big Ten Gopher Championship Basketball team of 1937-1938.
Grant continued his education path as a teacher and coach in Odessa and Cloquet, before becoming a principal and then a Supt of Schools in Pine Island, Wanimingo, Mountain Lake, Detroit Lakes and Buffalo, Minn.
He was inducted into three Hall of Fames to include the University of Minnesota M Club for basketball, Minnesota State High School League for administration and athletics and the Two Harbors/Lake County/Hall of Fame in basketball in 1997.
He had many accomplishments over the year including U of M Distinguished Service Award, Governor's Centennial Statehood Sport Championship Award, University 50 year Century Diamond Pin Award, Alumni Association Board of Directors Service Award, President of the Minnesota State High School League, and University of Minnesota Alumni King of 1953.
His passion for education was never ending. He strived for the best educational facilities for all students.In Detroit Lakes and Buffalo, Minn. he not only built new schools but he was able to get them their technical schools.
Grant leaves five children; Mark and Kathie (Johnson) Schaffler, Maitland, Fla., Jeff and Ardis (Rusten) Johnson, Detroit Lakes, Minn., Mark and Jennifer (Johnson) Marcouiller, Waukee, Iowa; Marcus and Candyce (Johnson) Coons, Jenson Beach, Fla.; and Robbin Kelly Johnson, Maitland, Fla.
He also leaves a niece, Roberta Joy (Beecroft) Korth, Minneapolis, Minn., and a nephew, Bruce Johnson, Tofte, Minn.
Grantpa as he was affectionately called by his grand and great grand kids, will all miss him.
Grand children are; Karrie, Lane, Kelly, Katie and Nicholas.
Great-grand children are; Peyton, Griffin, Kaelen and Hudson.
A memorial in Grant Johnson's name will be set up with the Two Harbor's Sr. High School for a deserving senior basketball player. A memorial service will be held in Detroit Lakes in Sept.