Gerald “J.J.” Johnson, 88

Gerald “J.J.” Johnson, 88, of Marshalltown, IA, passed away peacefully Wednesday, August 7, 2019, at the Iowa River Hospice Home in Marshalltown. Funeral Services will be 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 13, 2019, at Anderson Funeral Homes in Marshalltown. Visitation will be 9:30 a.m., until the time of the services, at the funeral home. Interment will be in Rose Hill Memorial Gardens in Marshalltown. Reverend Greg Ellcey will be officiating the services. Memorials may be directed to the Hoglan Elementary School Media Center, the Woodbury Elementary School Media Center, or the VFW of Marshalltown. Online condolences may be sent to www.andersonfhs.com.

J.J. was born on February 13, 1931, in Marshalltown, IA, the son of Leo Johnson and Marie Sewell Johnson, and was the second youngest of 10 children. He attended Marshalltown High School where he lettered both as a clarinet musician in the marching band and as a football player-taking home the state championship in 1947. After graduating, J.J. met the love of his life, Elizabeth “Bessie” Johnson, on a blind date. Three months later, on July 26, 1952, they were married. J.J. and Bessie began their family shortly thereafter and had six children together. Over the course of his career, J.J. spent time working on the railroad, at Marshalltown Instruments, as an agent at AAA Insurance Co., at Farm and Home supply, and as a carpenter at his namesake J.J. Johnson Carpentry. J.J. worked hard for his family, also serving in the United States Army. He was honorably discharged in October 1963. In retirement, J.J. worked as a childcare provider with “Bessie’s Daycare,” which he operated with his wife out of their home. J.J. found joy in sitting on the deck with Bessie and watching the birds in the birdhouses he built. Over the course of his life, J.J. authored more than 1,500 poems and 13 children’s books. You may recognize his name as the frequently published author in the Times Republican’s Poetry Corner whose poems made you laugh, shed a tear, or simply sit back and think. J.J. and daughter Julie started a poetry club at Hoglan Elementary School, at which he regularly read, fostering a love of language among the students. J.J. loved making pancakes at daughter Julie and Janet’s schools. Even up until J.J.’s final days, he will be remembered by all for his quick wit and his sense of humor. When J.J. reminisced about his life, he would often end by saying, “and I wouldn’t change a thing!” May we all honor J.J.’s life and beautiful mind by living our own with a similar sense of constant comedy, relentless curiosity, and harmonious resolve.

Left to cherish his memory are five of his six children, Jill (Craig) Brewer of Hudson Falls, NY, Julie (Ken) Harvey of Marshalltown, Jeff (Linda) Johnson of Williamsburg, IA, Janet Johnson of Marshalltown, Jenny (Andy) Bledsoe of Gladbrook, IA; 12 grandchildren: Christina Kruzich of Ankeny, IA, Natalie (Drew) Purcell of Indianola, IA, Nate (Stephanie) Miltenberger of Des Moines, IA, Eric (Kristin) Brewer of Waterbury Center, VT, Brent (Jodi) Brewer of Hudson Falls, NY, Levi (Hillary) Brewer of Hudson Falls, Ben (Darci) Brewer of Hudson Falls, Mary (Corey) Miller of Cedar Rapids, IA, Katie (Martin) Robillard of North Liberty, IA, Abby (Andy) Wilson of Denver, CO, Josey (Nick) Vasquez of Newton, IA, Jordan (Brenda) Bledsoe of Cedar Falls, IA; and 27 great grandchildren. J.J. now joins his wife, Elizabeth Johnson; daughter, Jeri Ann Miltenberger; daughter-in-law, Elizabeth (Liz) Johnson; brothers and sisters, Lloyd, Louise, Hazel, Russell, Don, Billy, Bob, Dick, and Joyce; and his parents, as one of God’s angels in heaven.