Wallace “Wally” Rockwell Johnson

Wallace “Wally” Rockwell Johnson, age 85 of Anoka, was born August 17, 1931 in St. Cloud, Minnesota, to Elinor Jeannette (Olson) Johnson and Jerry Carl Johnson. He grew up in Delano, Minnesota. He graduated from Delano High School in 1949. He was active in sports, playing football and basketball. He was most active in baseball and began his baseball pitching career on the youth team started by Father Andrew Handzel. Wally continued his baseball pitching and was named MVP for St. Cloud State University and for the BAMC Comets in Texas. He was scouted for the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitcher. Wally actively chose to become an educator as his first vocational love and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in Elementary Education in 1953 and earned his Master’s Degree of Science in Education in 1954. He married Naomi Marie Hallberg of Lake Netta, Minnesota, on July 29, 1954 at Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka, Minnesota. Wally was subsequently drafted into the US Army and was stationed in Texas. After discharge, Wally and Naomi became teachers for the Bloomington, MN district. In 1959, the couple had one child, Jill Marie Johnson. Wally was recruited by the Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 as a school principal and began his career at Morris Bye Elementary in 1958. Wally became the principal of Crooked Lake Elementary School. Wally served as president of the Minnesota Association of Elementary School Principals and also served with the National Association of Elementary School Principals. He was a member of Phi Delta Kappa. Wally and Naomi were active members of the United Methodist Church in Anoka and then the Anoka Wesleyan Church. Wally sang throughout his entire life, for weddings, church services, and funerals. He was a member of many quartets and choruses throughout his lifetime. He was a member of the Anoka Area Kiwanis. After retiring, Wally started the International Bible Givers nonprofit organization for worldwide distribution of Bibles. Wally was devoted to God, family, and friends and his fondest desire was that everyone would come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Throughout life, Wally, Naomi, and Jill traveled together frequently on road trips and plane trips. Wally had an endless sense of adventure. The day after being released from a recent hospitalization, he attended the Minnesota State Fair. He loved fishing and being in nature from a boy onwards. He had the eye of a pitcher and could focus with laser-like precision on the task at hand. He had enormous determination and bravery throughout his entire life. There are no words to say how much his fierceness and humor will be missed.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Naomi “Tiger”; his cherished brother, Gerald Johnson; his mentor/cousin, Dr. Harry Olson; and his much-loved parents and in-laws, Jerry and Elinor Johnson and Arnold and Marie Hallberg.
He is survived by his daughter, Jill M. Johnson; nieces and nephews, Tim and Marie Pearson, Steve and Carrie Johnson, Todd and Jeanie Pearson, Stacy and Peggy Jones, and Celia Pearson and Dickie Thayer; cousins, Elizabeth Ann (House) Hillestad, Marcy (Hillestad) Zurn, Jeanette Bruhn; and step-grandchildren, Kerensa and Ramona Danielson.
Visitation 4-7 p.m. Sunday, January 15, at Thurston-Lindberg Funeral Home, 2005 Branch Ave., Anoka, MN — Story Time and Song Fest at 7 p.m. Please come with stories to share about Wally and songs you would like to sing. Funeral service, 11 a.m. Monday, January 16, at Anoka Wesleyan Church, 1930 Branch Ave. Interment Champlin Cemetery. Memorials to Anoka Wesleyan Church and International Bible Givers. Thurston-Lindberg Funeral Home Anoka, 763-421-0220, thurston-lindberg.com

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