Dennis Merlin Johnson

February 19, 1948 ~ June 24, 2012

Dennis Merlin Johnson was born on February 19, 1948 to Desmond and Edna (Peper) Johnson in Flandreau, SD. He attended school in Egan, SD and graduated in 1966. Dennis was killed in an automobile accident on Sunday, June 24, 2012 while driving his route for Orion Foods, Hot Stuff Pizza.

Dennis was drafted into the Army and served in the Vietnam War. He was awarded a purple heart for wounds received in action. He also received a variety of other awards including the Army Commendation Medal for Heroism for moving forward and taking on an exposed position during action to sustain fire against the enemy.

Dennis attended college at Southwestern Technical College for lamination. He worked for Bayliner Marine for a number of years before he began driving truck. He started driving truck for Orion Foods in 1989 where he had been a valued employee for 23 years. Dennis received the driver of the year award in 2009. He took pride in his work and always tried to make his customers his top priority. He had met many good friends at Orion who were like family to him.

Dennis married Mary Kay Lichtsinn on October 26, 1972. They would have celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary this October. Together they have four children: Christy Lynn, Travis Lee, Troy Steven, and Derrick Jacob. The addition of some very special son and daughter-in-laws have joined their family; George Petersen, Amy Johnson, Amalia Johnson, and Jennifer Johnson who helped bring their beautiful grandchildren into their lives: Clarissa Mary, Riley Garrett, Braiden Harm, Gabriel Dennis, and Cooper Thomas Petersen; Raphael Joseph and Elijah Jacob Johnson; and Emma Grace and Natalie Elizabeth Johnson, along with a new arrival due in August. Grandpa Dennis was extremely proud of his children and grandchildren. He had been looking forward to the upcoming wedding of Troy and Amalia on September 1st.

Dennis enjoyed spending time with his family, go-cart racing, boating, and celebrating birthdays and holidays. He loved to watch his grandchildren participate in their activities. His hobbies included woodworking and making things for his family and friends.

Dennis was one of those people who had a big personality and even bigger heart. His smile and jokes will be missed by his family and friends. He is lovingly remembered by his wife, Mary Johnson of Luverne, MN, and their three children Christy (George) Petersen of Brandon, SD, Troy (Amalia) Johnson of Sioux Falls, SD, Derrick (Jennifer) Johnson of Brandon, SD and their daughter-in-law Amy Johnson of Pipestone, and one daughter Denise Nass. He is also remembered by his nine grandchildren with a tenth due in August. Dennis is also remembered by his siblings Gloria (Jim) Houg of Brandon, SD, Barbra Johnson, Egan, SD, Rodney Johnson, Egan, SD, Sue Lahr, Egan, SD, and Steven (Beth) Johnson, Brookings, SD and many nieces and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his son, Travis Lee Johnson and his parents Desmond and Edna Johnson.
A memorial has been established to the American Heart Association in memory of both Travis and Dennis.

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  • Lori Hanson says:

    Dear Johnson family, I am so deeply sorry about the loss of your husband, father and grandfather! I work with Derrick at the YWCA..
    May the good Lord wrap his loving arms around each of you and give you strength, courage, comfort and peace at this sad time!
    Prayers & May God Bless You All..

    In his grip,
    Lori Hanson

  • David Bader says:

    Dennis, you were a great, unselfish, caring, hardworking (and I have to throw in orney) man. I will miss you greatly!
    Mary, My thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire family. May God grant you all peace.
    God bless.

  • Paul VanDiepen says:

    I am also an employee at Orion Foods and am truly sorry for your loss Dennis will be greatly missed I load the trucks at Orion and I truly admire the Drivers for the work the do.

  • malissa otto says:

    So very sorry for your loss. Dennis was a great man and will be missed greatly. Sending lots of thoughts and prayers to the whole family.

  • Kaci Classen says:

    Our deepest sympathy to all of the family. Dennis was our delivery man at KC’s Roadrunner in Spencer, NE. Dennis put a smile on everyones face whenever he delivered our product, We will miss him greatly..Keeping your Family in our Prayers.

  • Stephanie Price says:

    To the family and friends of Dennis Johnson, please accept my family’s deepest and most sincere condolenses for your loss. Dennis seemed like a such a great man, husband, father and grandfather, not to mention the fact that he served our country. I lost my uncle in that accident but my heart goes out to you just as much as it does my own family. I’ve prayed for you and asked that God give you peace and the strength to get through this.
    My thoughts will remain with you…

  • George & Carol Scotting says:

    Dennis will be truly missed by his whole family. Memories of his kind, fun-loving nature will be his legacy. He was an awesome “grandpa”. Our sympathy & prayers to the whole family!

  • Brenda Zarr says:

    So sorry for your loss, Dennis was our delivery man at the Corner Express, Center, ND. He was always happy and loved to joke with the employees. Every other Tuesday he would call saying “See you in a half an hour, we sure will miss that call. There is another angel in heaven. Take care We miss you Dennis.
    The employees of the Corner Express, Center, ND

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