JOHNSON, MERLE ARTHUR - Minnehaha County, South Dakota | MERLE ARTHUR JOHNSON - South Dakota Gravestone Photos

Merle Arthur JOHNSON

Woodlawn - Sioux Falls Cemetery
Minnehaha County,
South Dakota

Merle Arthur Johnson
December 08, 1930 - October 09, 2020

Merle Johnson was a loving husband, father and grandfather; a devoted Christian, civic leader, and a pioneer in South Dakota law. He fought for life, family and freedom of religion. He fostered friendships that lasted a lifetime. Merle cherished family and serving God. He was described as a statesman, a gentleman and a great lawyer. He will be missed for all of these qualities but his faith, steadfastness and wit are what make people smile in remembrance.

Merle passed away on Oct. 8, 2020. He was 89. Born Dec. 8, 1930, he grew up on a farm south of Alcester, the oldest of two children of Ralph and Mary Johnson. While adept, or maybe not, at the usual farm chores, his mother had aspirations for him beyond the farm. At the age of 5, she enrolled him in Declam, a public speaking forum that prepared him for a life that made an impact on Sioux Falls and the state of South Dakota.

Merle attended Sioux Falls College and the University of South Dakota. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he graduated from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1955 and joined the small law firm of Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith. At the time, there were only 4 lawyers. By the time of his “retirement”, 60 plus years later, Woods Fuller had become the largest firm in South Dakota.

Early in his career, he practiced business and corporate law, as well as criminal and civil litigation, including several arguments before the South Dakota Supreme Court. Later in his career he specialized in estate planning. In 1996 he was invited to join the prestigious American College of Trust and Estate Council. He remained active in business and corporate law and served on many boards, helping to advance charitable and religious work in the city. His favorite legal cause, however, was helping families with adoptions, and he pioneered adoption laws in this state.

He had a passion for the University of Sioux Falls, where he served as a trustee for 45 years. In 2005, Merle was named A.O. Larsen outstanding alumni of the year. He served on the Woodlawn Cemetery Association for 36 years, as well as the American Baptist Homes of the Midwest, Christian Legal Society and Christian Counseling Services among others. He held leadership positions in the Elks and Kiwanis Clubs and Southeastern Mental Health Center. Near and dear to his heart was First Baptist Church, where he served in various leadership positions, including many years on Church Council.

Merle met the love of his life at an Augustana picnic in 1956, the lovely Sharon Frank. They built a life together that was inclusive of others and developed a friendship network that has lasted a lifetime. The couple joined First Baptist Church under the leadership of Roger Fredrikson, who became a great friend and mentor. Merle and Sharon were married 62 years.

Merle is survived by his wife, Sharon and their three children, Mary Lynne Johnson, Reed Johnson and Amy (Jonathan) Ellis; four adored grandchildren, Cassidy, Grace, Thomas and Xavier; his sister, Margery Smith and his treasured 1960 white Ford Thunderbird. He was preceded in death by his parents, as well as many close friends.

The family would like to thank Avera Home Hospice for the loving, excellent care and comfort they provided Merle and his family in his final weeks.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be directed to the First Baptist Church Building Fund or Improvements at USF Sports Complex.

Visitation will be held at Miller Funeral Home, 507 S. Main Avenue on Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 5.00 to 7.00 p.m. Funeral services will be held at First Baptist Church, 1401 S. Covell Avenue at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14.

Section Westlawn B Plot 229
Merle passed away 9 Oct 2020 (aged 89)

Contributed on 10/16/21 by 9katz
Email This Contributor

Suggest a Correction

Record #: 272767

To request a copy of this photo for your own personal use, please contact our state coordinator. If you are not a family member or the original photographer — please refrain from copying or distributing this photo to other websites.

Additional JOHNSON Surnames in WOODLAWN - SIOUX FALLS Cemetery

Additional JOHNSON Surnames in MINNEHAHA County

Thank you for visiting the South Dakota Gravestone Photo Project. On this site you can upload gravestone photos, locate ancestors and perform genealogy research. If you have a relative buried in South Dakota, we encourage you to upload a digital image using our Submit a Photo page. Contributing to this genealogy archive helps family historians and genealogy researchers locate their relatives and complete their family tree.

Submitted: 10/16/21 • Approved: 10/18/21 • Last Updated: 10/21/21 • R272767-G272767-S3

Surnames  |  Other GPP Projects  |  Contact Us  |  Terms of Use  |  Site Map  |  Admin Login