Gloria Johnson, 78, of Thief River Falls, MN passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease on Sunday, January 12, 2020 at Sanford Hospital in Fargo, ND with her loving family at her side.

The funeral to celebrate Gloria’s life will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at Calvary Lutheran Church in St. Hilaire, MN with Rev. Frank Ehling officiating. Visitation will be held on Friday, January 17, 2020 at Johnson Funeral Service from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM with a 7:00 PM prayer service.  Burial will follow the funeral at Greenwood Cemetery in Thief River Falls, MN.

Gloria Ann Aanerud was born July 14, 1941 in Roseau, MN the daughter of Hans Anton and Gladys Marion (Erickson) Aanerud. She was baptized at Bethel Lutheran Church in Greenbush, MN and confirmed at Oiland Lutheran Church, rural Greenbush. Gloria’s early years included two significant events: the death of her father when she was two years old and her polio diagnosis when she was five years old.  Paralyzed from the waist down, she learned to walk again with help, determination, and strength.  Gloria attended Haug-Leo Country School in Barto Township until her family moved to Caribou, MN in 1948, where she completed the eighth grade at School District 81. Her freshman year of high school was spent in Greenbush, and Gloria graduated from Lancaster High School in 1959 as co-salutatorian.  Gloria attended Moorhead State College in Moorhead, MN and graduated in 1963 with an Elementary Education Degree.

She met the love of her life, Harlow Johnson, while at Moorhead State, and the couple were married on Gloria’s birthday in 1963 in Greenbush. They settled on a farm in Rocksbury Township, Pennington County, just south of Thief River Falls.  In the fall of 1963, Gloria began her teaching career in Thief River Falls at Washington School with the 5th Grade class and taught for two years. To this union five children were born:  Lynn, Karla, Colleen, Jane and Peter. Gloria cherished her time at home while their children were growing.  After the children were all in school, she returned to the classroom as a substitute teacher in addition to working on the farm. She could maneuver a grain truck through the field like a pro, and there was no such thing as a small meal served during harvest time.

Gloria was very proud of her Norwegian heritage. She was instrumental in establishing a relationship with family in Norway through numerous visits, learning to speak the language and carrying on the traditions in her baking and decorating. She was also instrumental in connecting her family with four generations of the Aanerud family in Norway. Gloria’s children and grandchildren have carried on this legacy.

She enjoyed being outdoors spending time with nature, working in her vegetable and flower gardens, and mowing the lawn on her John Deere. She also enjoyed reading the daily newspaper, working jigsaw, crossword & Sudoku puzzles, and watching Wheel of Fortune. Her cooking and baking were wonderful, and she loved traveling to Norway, Sweden, America’s fifty states, and had wintered 15 seasons in Panama City Beach, FL with her husband Harlow.

She was an active member of Calvary Lutheran Church in St. Hilaire, MN, Christian Women’s group, Sons of Norway, Rocksbury Homemakers, St. Hilaire Lioness and enjoyed volunteering with Meals-On-Wheels. For four years, Gloria worked for ASSE placing foreign high school students in area homes and hosted on separate occasions two 4-H students and counselor from Norway.  Together with Harlow, she was awarded the Pennington County Farm Beautification Award in 1981 and the Valley Farmer and Homemaker Award in 2008.

Survivors include her loving husband of 56 years, Harlow of Thief River Falls; children: Lynn (Diana) Johnson of Big Lake, MN; Karla (Allan) Kosel of Eagan, MN; Colleen (Garth) Kaste of Fertile, MN; Jane (Jon) Scherf of Britt, MN and Peter (Jennifer) Johnson of Geneseo, IL; grandchildren: Connor & Olivia Johnson, Benjamin & Elizabeth Kosel, Cynthia & Grant Kaste, Katherine & Ryan Scherf and Zachary, Matthew & Adam Johnson; and many other relatives and friends.

She is preceded in death by her parents; her step-father, Bill Sundstedt and half-brother, Wayne Sundstedt.

Memorials preferred to Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota, 7900 West 78th Street, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN or charity of donor’s choice. 


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