William “Bill” Carl Johnson, 79, of Moorhead, MN, passed away on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at Sanford Medical Center, Fargo, ND, surrounded by his loving family.
Bill was born on February 28, 1944, to John and Elvira (Andreotti) Johnson in Fort Worth, TX, where he grew up. He graduated from Jesuit High School in Dallas, TX, where he was an all-state fullback (running backs were not en vogue at the time) and received scholarship offers from both the Universities of Oklahoma and Texas, though these were declined in lieu of the Jesuit Novitiate.
The Lord made his heart restless and he discerned religious life was not his calling. Thus, he spent the next 20 years embracing a variety of experiences including earning a bachelor's degree between the Universities of St. Thomas (MN) and Texas, service in the Marine Corps (medically discharged), counseling at the Texas School for the Deaf, and law school. While he ultimately decided against a law degree, he did take formal instruction on contractual agreements and would often cajole his children to take note of the "fine print". A call to the service of poor and disabled communities was realized prompting a Master’s degree in counseling coupled with ongoing work at the Catholic Worker House in San Antonio. It was here that he met the next great chapter in his life, Roberta.
Roberta and Bill fell deeply in love and were married July 18, 1987. For the first few years of marriage they resided in Texas, but in 1994, when their son Russell was just two weeks old, they moved to the Fargo-Moorhead area to be closer to Roberta's family. It was here that the Johnson family grew and flourished. During this time Bill built a vast network of friends, worked as a sign language interpreter, and frequented 12-step programs. He would speak of their profound importance to anyone who would listen. Further, he embraced the community at St. Joseph's Catholic Church and worked tirelessly towards their growth. He enjoyed attending mass daily, being close to his grandchildren at St. Joseph's School, and falling asleep in adoration. Typically, when you would wake him up from the latter, he would just smile and say he was "wasting time with Jesus".
Bill's greatest earthly love was always his family and he consistently strove to excel in the roles of husband and father. This was no more evident than when his beautiful bride, Roberta, passed in 2010 from leukemia. Instead of withdrawing from the daunting role of supporting his many children alone, he embraced it, and consistently sacrificed his own needs for the wellbeing of his family.
Bill is survived by his six children, Sara (Gerry) Stevens, Jeremiah (Ashley) Johnson, Daniel (Aubrey) Johnson, Russell (Meghan) Johnson, Julia (Austen) Paluch, and Joshua Johnson; 11 grandchildren; brother, John (Karen) Johnson; and many other loving relatives and friends. He is preceded in death by his loving wife, Roberta; parents, John and Elvira; and his two sisters, Virginia and Antionette.
Visitation will be from 5:30 P.M. to 7:00 P.M., followed by the wake service at 7:00 P.M., Friday, May 12, 2023, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Moorhead, MN. Visitation will continue from 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., followed by the Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, May 13, 2023, at the church. Burial will take place at St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery, Moorhead, MN, following the service.