Howard Johnson, 94, passed away peacefully at his home in Sauk Centre, on Feb. 10, 2021. 

Howard was born Nov. 28, 1926, in Appleton and was one of 11 brothers and sisters. A WWII veteran serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex CV9, Howard experienced some of the heaviest fighting in the South Pacific leading up to the end of the war. After returning from WWII, Howard worked a short time in Southern California before returning to Minnesota and meeting Maxine Lee of Naytahwaush. Howard and Maxine were married Aug. 21, 1954, and settled in Minneapolis, working as a jewelry salesman before moving to Ortonville. Living in Ortonville, Howard managed a nursing home. It is during this time he became interested in health care for the elderly and went to nursing school and received his LPN license. Throughout the 1960s and early ‘70s, Howard managed several assisted living facilities, both in Minnesota and in Southern California. In 1969, Howard and Maxine bought “Kirkoffs Bar and Steak House” in Westport and renamed it “The Westport House.” It became a popular dinner and entertainment destination in the area. In 1973, Howard moved his family to Villard and built a successful, over-the-road wholesale jewelry business. Ever the entrepreneur, in 1979, Howard and Maxine built Arrowsmith and Silvercrest Apartments in Sauk Centre. After retirement, Howard and Maxine moved to Mah Kounce, north of Naytahwaush, on the White Earth Indian Reservation, splitting their time between Mah Kounce and a winter home in Florence, Arizona. After the passing of Maxine, Howard moved into one of his apartment units he owned in Sauk Centre, where he passed away peacefully. 

Howard is survived by his son, Scott, and wife, Terri, of St. Joseph; granddaughter Jennifer (Dustin) of Royalton; grandson Alex of Hot Springs, South Dakota; two great-grandchildren, Lucas and MacKenzie; sister, Dorothy Craig of Valley Center, California; and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents Joseph and Dora Johnson; his wife, Maxine (Lee) Johnson; brothers Clifford, Arthur, Edward and David; sisters, Myrtle Skotterud, Doris Gustine, Eloise Perry, Bernice Blank and Margaret Kuhn. 

A memorial will be set in the spring at the Née-Gon-Née Lutheran church in Roy Lake, with internment in Naytahwaush next to his beloved wife, Maxine.