Ron Johnson wore many hats- army veteran, dad, papa, lover and rescuer of animals, skydiver, excellent cook, world class prankster, poker player, telecommunications project manager, busdriver, and retired EMT and firefighter. He loved and excelled at them all.
Ron was born Jan 3, 1946, in Madison Wisconsin, to Arthur and Marie Johnson, the youngest of four siblings, and the only boy. He loved sharing stories about attending a one room schoolhouse (of course he had to walk uphill both ways to get there, in three feet of snow), having outdoor plumbing, and losing the family home twice to fire. He had many childhood adventures with his sister Sharon, and their close bond lasted their entire lives.
His military service was something he was very proud of. Eight days after graduating from New Glarus High School in 1964, Ron reported for basic training. He was a helicopter mechanic, and spent the majority of his three years at Fort Wainwright in Alaska.
Although he didn’t fly in the army he had a desire to be in the air. This led to pilot lessons and skydiving. He eventually became a jumpmaster, and loved his time with his good friends at the Dropzone in Omro, and traveling around the country jumping. For many years he owned horses which led to horse shows with his daughter, Heather, and his granddaughter, Caity. He loved to tell the story about giving the announcer the name of Caity’s horse’s name as Gluestick. Caity didn’t know until they called her name as the winner on “Gluestick”. One of his many practical jokes. Ron’s other passion was poker. This led to many tournaments, one of them even in Las Vegas. He loved the game as well as the banter.
His adventures with his partner and best friend of 20 years, Cheri, included antiquing, going to Klasen’s for a morning bun, and taking care of their rescue dogs. He loved a good fish fry, especially bluegill. Ron also loved spending time with Cheri’s dad, Bob. Ron could always be relied on to come to the family get-togethers with the best meat and cheese platters.
Ron had been working as a busdriver since retirement, at Kobusen’s in Deforest. He loved being a busdriver, and he was loved by the kids on his route. Ron framed the letters that the children wrote to him, thanking him for being their favorite busdriver. His coworkers were very special to him, and they allowed his dog Snuffy to come into the office every day while he drove his route. He was hoping to return to Kobusen’s in the fall after rehabilitation from the stroke he had suffered April 8th.
God had other plans. After the stroke in April, Ron learned to walk and talk again, and was excited to come home May 3rd, with the assistance of his daughters. During the last month there were many highs and lows, but many more days of laughter- laughing so hard we actually cried. The practical jokes continued (we will always check the seat heater now), he was still very witty, bossy and very much “Ron”. We realize that the extra time we had before he suffered another stroke, May 23rd, was a precious gift. Ron passed away May 25th, 2021, surrounded by his family at the VA hospital in Madison. He is survived by Cheri Masino, partner and best friend, daughters Angie Johnson Hallmark (Matt Derheimer) and Heather Johnson (Bill Schroeder), grandchildren Nick, Aubrey, Grace, Caity, Liz, and Jeff, great grandchildren Karsen, Karter, Kash, Austyn, and Bo, sister Lois Heller, his rescue dog Krystal, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and loved ones. He was preceded in death by his beloved dog Snuffy, his parents, and sisters Carol, Lorraine and Sharon. Memorials can be made to the family or Columbia County Humane Society in his honor (where he had recently adopted Krystal from).
Per his wishes, there will be no services, and there will be a small celebration of life at a later date.