Donald C. Johnson, Sr., age 87 of Rumely and formerly of Munising, died on Saturday afternoon, February 20, 2021 at Medilodge while surrounded by his family. Born in Chatham, Michigan on May 30, 1933 to Carl and Martha (Hallstrom) Johnson, Don grew up helping on the family farm. Throughout his entire life, he was a kind and humble man. Don graduated from Eben High School where he excelled as a runner in track and cross country. He married Pat Wilder on September 24, 1955 and together they raised their family. Don retired from Kimberly Clark after 31 years of employment. During his time coaching Little League, he developed great fondness not only for his own team, but all other League members as well. His passion for the outdoors could be found in almost everything he did. He loved trapping, fishing, hunting, and canoeing. He was always game for an adventure and eager to learn something new, like beekeeping or flying. Don never lacked for conversation with friends or people he just met.
Don revisited his love for running at age 48 by participating in marathons across the Midwest. He qualified for the Boston Marathon and on April 19, 1982, he “captured a unicorn” as he completed the race. It has inspired generations of family to follow his love of running. After retirement He took up dog sledding and truly enjoyed his time with the dogs. He wished he would have begun that adventure earlier in life. After Don and Pat had raised their kids, they pursued many of their own adventures. Faith was always important in Don's life, and he and Pat were members of Sion Lutheran Church in Chatham.
He and Pat were always both supportive and proud of their children’s, grandchildren’s, and great grandchildren’s activities. They could be found in bleachers, auditoriums, track fields and 4H barns from elementary through college supporting their family’s accomplishments. The adventures he had with his family meant the world to him and have provided them with lasting and loving memories.
Papa shared his knowledge of the outdoors, especially trapping, with Scott. Inspired by his determination and passion for running, Hope, Seth and Casey also followed in his footsteps. While each of them had their own sled dog teams, he and Brooke connected as only mushers understood. Papa took great joy in following Brett and Daryn in all their sports. Papa cherished each and every moment he spent with his great grandchildren and they in turn adored him.
Don was a loving husband to Pat; Dad to Jill (Paul) Kelto of Chatham, Buzz (Allison) Johnson of Munising and Jackie (Pat) McGee of Chatham; Papa to Scott (Amber) McGee of “South” Rumely, Seth (Jessica) Kelto of Munising, Hope (Chris) Bollig of Mankato, MN, Brooke (Kevin Bellmore) McGee of Powers, MI, Casey (Prairie Rose) McGee of Boise, ID, Brett and Daryn Johnson of Munising; Great Papa to Maggie and Bennett Bollig, Evan and Simon Kelto, Guthrie and Rumely Rose McGee, Paige, Natalie, Kate Caleb, Claire, Joshua, Adeline Asher and Kara McGee; Brother to Carolyn Nelson of Eben and Nancy (Richard) McLaughlin of Harvey; Brother in Law to Rick (Gail) Wilder of AuTrain and Barbara Wilder of Lake Linden and uncle and cousin to many.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, daughter Jody, and nieces Lee Ann and Laurie; Parents-in Law Russell and Wanda Wilder, Brothers and Sisters-in-Law Edwin Nelson, Russ “Woodie” Wilder, Paul Wilder and Barbara Miller.
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
During this time of restrictions where travel and gathering for family is not possible, family will gather at a later date. Memorials in Don’s name may be directed to Special Olympics, The Alger County Food Pantry, or Alger County Communities That Care (AC3).
St. Vincent De Paul Society
Alger Community Food Pantry
c/o 312 Lynn Street, Munising MI 49862
Alger County Communities that Care (AC3)
413 Maple Street - Suite 7, Munising MI 49862