Paul Arthur “PJ" Johnson, age 97, passed away peacefully on November 7 at the VA hospital in Minneapolis, MN, with the love of his life, Barbara, at his side and his five children, 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren nearby.
Paul was born in Watertown, MA on April 27, 1926 to Carl and Ethel Johnson and lived a life centered on his Christian faith and serving his country, community and church. He spent much of his childhood at his grandfather Emil Fredrickson’s farm in Burlington, MA and maintained a love of gardening and farming through his adult life.
After graduating from Watertown High School, Paul enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and served as a Naval Corpsman through the end of the World War II, helping to treat the wounded and injured as they returned stateside. He graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL and North Park College and Seminary in Chicago Il. He was ordained as a Minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church of America in 1952.
Paul and Barbara were married in Chicago, IL in 1953, just prior to Paul returning to service as a U.S. Marine Corps chaplain during the Korean War. Upon returning from the Korea, Paul accepted a position as chaplain, Bible teacher and JV football coach at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis. He would return as chaplain and bible teacher at Minnehaha later in life, and remained a fixture at Minnehaha until his death.
In 1958, Paul returned to active duty as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy, eventually rising to the rank of Captain. His assignments sent him around the world and deep under the sea on submarines, aircraft carriers and other Navy and Marine vessels and aircraft. He also served four years at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.
After retiring from the Navy, Paul served in a number of leadership roles in the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, including four years as the Superintendent of the East Coast Conference, four years as denomination Vice President, six years as a member of the Executive Committee, and three years on the Board of Ministry. Over the years, he preached in hundreds of Covenant churches around the country and planted numerous churches in Minnesota and New England. He was a faithful member of Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis and Naples Community Church in Naples, FL.
He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Barbara (nee Ericson); his sister, Ethel Lindstrom; children Jeff (Barb), Julie (Chris), Joel (Laurie), Lance (Carrie) and Tim; 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Carl, Ernie and Eddie Johnson and sister Ruth Lundberg.
Paul’s family would like to thank the staff at the VA for the wonderful care they provided Paul and our family during his final hours. A memorial service and celebration of God’s faithfulness will be held on Saturday, November 11 at 1 p.m. at Bethlehem Covenant Church, 3141 43rd Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any memorials be sent to the ministry of your choice.