Sharon “S.L.” Johnson, 1933-2017

Published 12:31 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

Funeral services for Sharon “S.L.” Johnson, 84, will be at 11 a.m. today at Trinity Lutheran Church in Albert Lea. The Rev. Eileen Woyen will officiate. A private burial will follow. Visitation was at Bayview/Freeborn Funeral Home from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday and will be an hour before the service at the church today. Online condolences are welcome at

S.L. died at home Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Sharon “S.L.” Johnson

Sharon Lee Johnson was born May 26, 1933, in Waseca, the son of Clarence and Leona (Metzler) Johnson. He attended grade schools in Owatonna and rural schools in Freeborn and Worth counties. He was confirmed at Bethlehem Lutheran in Myrtle. He graduated from Albert Lea High School in 1951. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Albert Lea.

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S.L. married Joyce Baumgartner on May 16, 1953, in Northwood. S.L. was an insurance agent for many years. In 1962, he joined Lutheran Mutual Life Insurance Co., which later became Cuna Mutual Life Insurance Co. He received diplomas from the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, with degrees of Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) in 1978.

S.L. was a longtime member of the Elk’s Lodge for more than 25 years. He was exalted ruler and lodge trustee from 1996 to 1997, elected as esquire to the district deputy for the 1998 to 1999 term, and served as district deputy grand exalted ruler for 1999 to 2000. He was honored as “Elk of the Year” in 2000. He was also a member of the Eagles, Lions and Shriners clubs for many years. S.L. served as president of the Freeborn County Agricultural Society (Fair Board) for more than 13 years and was on the Fair Board for more than 17 years. He was a longtime Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and was named Outstanding Ambassador in 1996. He was elected Freeborn County commissioner (Fifth District) and served two terms (eight years).

S.L. enjoyed bowling, hunting, fishing, camping, snowmobiling, playing cards, as well as traveling across the United States and abroad. He and his wife, Joyce, enjoyed entertaining at their former country home outside of Albert Lea located on the Conger blacktop (R.R. 3). He loved his grandchildren and enjoyed making big bonfires, teaching them how to do chores like splitting wood and giving them tractor rides.

He enjoyed his daily coffee breaks at Hardee’s and Donut Hut with his coffee group. He also loved driving his Shriner car in the local parades. He was a Community Action Agency volunteer for Freeborn County, past president of the church council at Salem Lutheran Church as well as volunteered for Freeborn County Heart Association and many other causes.

S.L. is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joyce; five children, Sherry (Reid) Ulve of Albert Lea, Terry (Nancy) Johnson of Albert Lea, Diane (Clarke) Stensrude of Faribault; Kristine Hernandez (significant other, Scott Elliott) of Rochester, Marc (Kathy) Johnson of Emmons; 10 grandchildren, Todd (Julie) Ulve, Ryan (Kristyn) Ulve, Emily (Trevor) Kruger, Brooke (Jason) Rahenkamp, Brent Stensrude, Amanda Johnson, Becca Johnson, Taylor Hernandez, Dana Hernandez and Brandon Johnson; great-grandchildren Alex, Blake, Casey, Drew, Colin, Katelyn, Kelsey, Ethan and Eli; sister, Beverly Lechnir; brothers, Gary (Judy) Johnson and Don Johnson; and many nieces and nephews.

S.L. was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Leona Johnson; brother, Vernon Johnson; sister, Janet Johnson; brother-in-law, Jerry Lechnir; and sisters-in-law Velma Johnson and Sharon Johnson; as well as other loved ones.