Ralph Johnson was born on Jan. 24, 1927 at his parents' home in Cedar township, in Cherokee county. His parents, Eric and Ellen Ericksen Johnson, both emigrated from Sweden in their teens. During his school years, Ralph showed baby beef cattle while active as a leader in the Cherokee County 4-H club. He graduated from high school in Larrabee in 1944, and in Jan. 1945, enlisted in the Navy and attended Navy radio school in Indianapolis. He also played tuba in the Navy band. He was honorably discharged as a Radioman 2nd Class, having been stationed at the fleet broadcasting station in Guam.
Ralph married Maurene Smith of Paullina on June 5, 1947. After farming in northwest Iowa for ten years, Ralph became an assistant plant manager for the Steckley Genetic Giant seed corn company in DeWitt. He served as a district sales manager in Chillicothe, Mo., and after being transferred to Sycamore, Ill. by Steckley's successor company.Tomco Genetic Giant, Ralph served the community as president of the Sycamore parent-teachers organization and also as president of the DeKalb (IL) Public Speaking Club. He also served as committee chairman for Boy Scout troops in both Sycamore, Ill. and Chillicothe, Mo.
Upon his promotion to Regional Sales Manager for Acco Seed Company, he moved to Belmond, Iowa, in 1968, and resigned from that position in 1979. During the 1970's, he served as president of the Central Iowa Sales Executive and Marketing Directors Association in which he was active. Ralph retired from his sales career in 1995 after working six years with Confinement Engineers of Atlantic, IA and 10 years with the Iowa State Lottery.
Church activities were an important part of his active life during retirement. He served on a number of church committees and the Board of Trustees for the Belmond United Methodist Church. He was a volunteer driver for the Belmond community care car, and was president of its Board of Directors in 2000. His retirement years had a way of reflecting his earlier phases of life. He loved to help with spring planting and fall harvesting at the Buseman farms. One highlight was watching his grandson, Jonathan Johnson, graduate from the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, where he had also received his naval training.
He was preceded in death by a daughter, Julie Sue; his parents; a brother, Loren Johnson of San Diego, Calif.; a brother, Vernon who died in infancy, and a sister, Lenora Bengtson of Aurelia.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Maurene; his sons, Jay (Marilyn) Johnson of Granger and Eugene (Jane) Johnson of Le Mars; grandchildren, Eric (Jennifer) Johnson of Des Moines, Andrew Johnson (and fiancÚ Amy Kreamer) of Grimes, Jessica (James) Lindsey of Urbandale, Jonathan Johnson of Norfolk, Va., and Rebecca Johnson of Ames; and two great-grandchildren, Ella Ann Johnson of Des Moines and Jesse James Lindsey of Urbandale.