Cover photo for Dennis Johnson's Obituary
Dennis Johnson Profile Photo
1940 Dennis 2020

Dennis Johnson

September 20, 1940 — August 25, 2020

Morris, Minnesota

A public visitation will be Friday, August 28, 2020 from 5 to 7 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Morris.  Burial will be at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 29th at Tordenskjold Free Lutheran Cemetery near Underwood.  Lunch will be served at the cemetery following the burial, and everyone is encouraged to bring a chair.

There will be a live stream of Dennis’s private funeral service starting at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 29th.  To view the service on the Pedersen Funeral Home website, scroll to the bottom of Dennis’s page and click the link.

While maintaining social distancing guidelines, we are now able to accommodate gatherings of up to 250 people. The use of face masks by attendees is required, and we will continue taking the necessary steps to keep our facility clean. For those who prefer or require continued precautions, webcasting and/or livestreaming is available in most situations.

Born September 20, 1940 at the Wright Memorial Hospital in Fergus Falls, Dennis Gordon Johnson was raised on an 80 acre dairy farm with purebred Jersey cattle by Elmer Gordon Johnson and Mary Evelyn (Muckala) Johnson in Tordenskjold Township, Ottertail County, Minnesota. Siblings are Stuart Dale, Marilee Juneal (Bergerson), Brian Elliot, and Virginia Rae (Carlson). The atmosphere reflected hard work and strong social conscience.  He attended rural school district 95 for 8 years. It was an idyllic experience. The family were members of Tordenskjold Lutheran Free Church which provided Sunday school, worship, confirmation and community.

He attended West Central School of Agriculture (WCSA) in Morris from 1953 - 58 before enrolling in the Dairy Science program at NDSU in Fargo, ND. He graduated and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry in 1962. To his great good fortune he met and fell in love with Carole Arlene Petersen of Grenora, ND who he pursued with determination. He worked his way through college by making butter at the Cass Clay Creamery.  Needed human relations skills were developed by membership in Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.

Carole and Dennis were married December 27, 1964 in Havre, MT upon completion of 2 years active duty with the 39th Mechanized Infantry Battalion.  They moved to St Paul for the next three years. Carole marketed textiles and taught Home Economics at Central High, St. Paul as Dennis started graduate school at the University of Minnesota in Dairy Cattle Breeding.  His Masters work was a study of the inheritance of fertility in dairy cows and PhD dissertation research evaluated genetic change in Holstein cattle from DHIA records.

In 1968 Dennis was appointed Dairy Scientist at the West Central School and Experiment Station Morris and Carole accepted a position teaching Home Economics at Hancock High School.  In 1969 David Johannes was born followed by Mary Ellyn in 1972. A dairy scientist is responsible for applied research in dairy production and outreach education on dairy production.  His approach was unusual in deemphasizing journal publication with more direct farmer outreach. Work included introduction of total mixed rations, use of waste milk in calf diets, forage preservation, organic production, grazing systems, and fertility methods. The projects led to travel to Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Denmark, Uruguay. Norway, France and Germany.  His efforts regarding world hunger were associated with nearly 20 years as synod coordinator for the ELCA hunger appeal.  That included travel to Kenya, Tanzania, Israel, Bolivia, Peru and South Africa. Dennis was deeply committed to serving his community, some of the many included First Lutheran Church in Morris, MN, the Land Stewardship Committee and the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah Iowa where he served on the board.

Dennis’ table prayer always ended with these words: “Blessed be God who is our bread, may all the world be clothed and fed.”

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the ELCA World Hunger, the Land Stewardship Project, First Lutheran Church, Morris, MN or Vesterheim Museum, Decorah, IA.

Pedersen Funeral Home in Morris is in charge of the arrangements. To send condolences to the family please visit

Tordenskjold Free Lutheran Church, 19528 County Highway 39, Underwood, MN 56586

Directions from Morris

-Take 59 north to Barrett

-Take 10 north to Ashby

-Take 82 NW towards Dalton

-Turn right on 117 N which turns into 39 N when you cross 12

-Turn right into Tordenskjold Free Lutheran Church

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dennis Johnson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, August 28, 2020

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Pedersen Funeral & Cremation Service

101 South Atlantic Avenue, Morris, MN 56267

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

Tordenskjold Free Lutheran Cemetery

19528 Co Rd 39, Dalton, MN 56324

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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