GERMANTOWN HILLS - Lowell Johnson, 78, formerly of Germantown Hills, died on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at his home of 20 years in Bozeman, Mont., of complications from multiple sclerosis.
He was born on the family farm on March 6, 1935, in Roseau, Minn., to Ernest and Edda (Berentzen) Johnson.
Following graduation in 1953 from Roseau High School and from the University of Minnesota in 1958 with a degree in mechanical engineering, he was employed by Caterpillar Tractor in Peoria, Ill., for 35 years, until his retirement in 1990. He enjoyed the work he did and the folks with whom he worked. While at the East Peoria plant, he was credited with 13 patents, dealing with torque converters, drive trains and retarders. In 1984, he transferred to another facility and worked on advanced power train systems.
He married Marcia Davidson on Dec. 27, 1959, in Silver Bay, Minn. Their sons, Brian, Craig and Keith, provided opportunity for Lowell's participation in Cub Scouts and Christ Church, as well as the boys' interests in cross country, skiing, hockey, scouting, music, motocross, hunting, photography and cars. He was a hobbyist who taught himself darkroom developing, woodworking and a lot of home shop projects. He designed the family home in Germantown Hills. The highlight of most summers was a family camping vacation to the Rocky Mountain West.
In 1978, Lowell and Marcia became foster parents through Catholic Social Services, and over a period of 10 years, were "parents" to four Vietnamese or Laotian refugee teens and one American.
Diagnosed with MS at 49, Lowell decided to retire as soon as possible to enjoy whatever years of mobility and well-being he had. Following his 1990 retirement at age 55, Lowell and Marcia moved to the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, where the previous summer they had, on impulse, bought a small log home. Lowell found myriad projects to enjoy on the 10 acres with outbuildings. In 1994, they moved to Bozeman, where son, Keith, and family had moved. They loved the neighborhood that adopted them and their view of the mountains, as well as the day trips to Yellowstone Park. As Lowell's mobility diminished, he pursued more computer-driven projects and designs. The most recent was the challenging and rewarding 3D printer. His attitude was almost always positive, speaking of his MS only when pointedly asked.
He is survived by his wife, Marcia; sons, Brian and his wife, Eileen, of Visalia, Calif., Craig of Centennial, Wyo., and Keith of Bozeman, Mont.; grandsons, Danny, Andrew and Nick; and granddaughter, Jessica.
There are no services planned. The family requests that any gifts in Lowell's memory be offered to Pilgrim Congregational Church, 2118 S. Third, Bozeman, MT 59715; or Gallatin Valley Land Trust, P.O. Box 7021, Bozeman, MT 59771; or to their local food bank.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.