Robert Lee "Bob" JOHNSON
1926 - 2020
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was born July 27, 1926 in Chicago, IL and adopted at six months by Harry Stickney and Deva Johnson, of Mahtomedi, MN. He died peacefully, surrounded by family, in Stillwater, MN on May 18, 2020, at age 93. Bob enjoyed a full life on his own terms. His interest in journalism began in high school, where he covered sporting events for the high school paper. He graduated from St. Paul Central High School in 1944. After serving in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of Minnesota Journalism School, and worked at the St. Paul Pioneer Press as a nightside copy boy. In 1950 Bob was hired as a flight steward with Northwest Airlines, flying the Seattle-Tokyo Korean Airlift flights. Further adventure brought him to Hawaii, where he worked as a waterfront reporter for the The Honolulu Advertiser. In 1952 Bob returned to MN to work in the Northwest Airlines Public Relations Department and was editor of the employee newspaper The NWA News. During his tenure the newspaper won several highly coveted awards. Bob always considered the eight years he had with NWA as the highlight of his career. In 1956 he married Louise Anderson, and they had four daughters. After stints working at Bruce Publishing Company, KSTP-TV, and the CIA, he worked at 3M in public relations for over 20 years. His first marriage ended in divorce, and in 1977 he married Nancy Drake Wentz. After retiring, they traveled extensively. He was particularly enamored with Southeast Asia and also traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe. He and Nancy enjoyed homes in Port Angeles, WA, and Green Valley, AZ, before relocating to Minnesota six years ago. They spent many happy summers at their beloved cabin in Two Harbors, MN. Bob was an avid reader, loved sailing his X-boat and M-16 on White Bear Lake, golfing, and collecting Red Wing pottery. He was an accomplished photographer amassing over 80 albums of travel and family pictures. His many dogs and cats throughout his life were treasured companions. He collected friends wherever he went and maintained these friendships for a lifetime. Many of Bob's friends and family looked forward to his annual "Professor R.L. Johnson's Factoids" at Christmas time. These were interesting facts and tidbits of knowledge he collected each year from his reading. He never used a computer. Instead, he typed these up on his trusty 1960 Royal typewriter given to him upon retirement from 3M. In 2002 he helped found the Northwest Airlines History Center to ensure its 84 year history would never be forgotten. He said it felt as if he was coming home again. He served on the Board of Directors, volunteered at the museum and wrote for their newsletter. In order to preserve stories of this Airline that was so important to him, Bob researched, wrote and edited the book Voices From the Sky, Little-Known and Long-Forgotten Stories About NorthSwest Airlines' Earlier Years, published in 2007. Bob was preceded in death by daughter, Elizabeth Sue Johnson. Survivors include his loving wife, Nancy Johnson, and daughters: Cynthia (Allen Perry) Johnson, Leslie (Tim) Foreman, Melissa (William) Lindau, 5 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild, and former wife and friend, Louise Pardee. No services will be held per his request. Gifts in his memory may be given to the Northwest History Center (10100 Flying Cloud Dr., Suite A-306, Eden Prairie, MN 55347) or to your local animal shelter. Dad, you are gone but never forgotten.




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Published in Pioneer Press on Jul. 26, 2020.
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July 26, 2020
Carolyn and I have wonderful memories of Bob regarding his stories about sailing on White Bear Lake. Bob's father Harry was a friend of my grandfather, John O. Johnson. We send our best wishes to Nancy.
John Johnson
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