Edith Marie Ling was born December 27, 1922, to Hilma (Larson) Ling and Olaf Person Ling at their Lake Fanny farm, just south of Cambridge MN. She was raised knowing the love of the Lord and, at age 12, gave her life fully to Him and served Him for the remainder of her days. She attended Skalin’s country school before entering Cambridge High School, from which she graduated in 1941.
Edith worked at a variety of jobs during her life, including Alice Chalmers in Minneapolis, Northwestern Bell, Stadin Photography Studio, Cambridge State Hospital, and School District 911. One highlight in her career was being on duty, as a telephone operator, the night Northwestern Bell Telephone Company switched from operator-connected phone calls to the dial tone system.
On September 24, 1948, Edith married John Donald (JD) Johnson, a red-headed cowboy from North Dakota, at North Isanti Baptist Church. God gave them five beautiful children, one boy and four girls – Lee, Mary, Christine, Carol, and Ruth. Sadly, December 31, 1971, Edith lost the love of her life to diabetes and heart disease at the young age of 54.
Music filled our home! Mom was gifted with a beautiful soprano singing voice, and by age 13, she was singing at weddings and soloing in church. She sang in high school choirs and in a small ensemble chorus. After high school, she seized an opportunity to take professional voice lessons in the Twin Cities. As a lifelong member of North Isanti Baptist Church, she sang in the church choir and numerous duets with Orley Eastlund and with Pastor Roy Johnson. In later years, she was part of a trio, “The Singing Hearts,” with Bernice Anderson, Betty Sundberg, and Nancy Peabody (pianist). Mom was also the church pianist for many years, along with Evelyn Olson, who served as the church organist. Neither of them could read music, but these two amazing ladies would jam like nobody’s business.
Someone recently said, “Edith was the ‘other mother’ to nearly everyone who grew up with the Johnson kids.” Our house was always open. It was the hub, the meeting place, and Mom wouldn’t have had it any other way. She taught us about hospitality, that a home should be for more than just those living in it. It was for making others feel a sense of belonging and family, especially when they didn’t have any other place to feel loved.
Our mom loved her Heavenly Father first, but her family followed closely behind! She couldn’t say enough about her kids, our spouses, the grandkids and the great grands. She loved her kids-in-law as if they were her own and made sure they always knew it. It saddened her deeply that our dad didn’t live to see his kids marry and have families of our own. She would say, “He would have been so proud of all of you.” Mom faithfully prayed for all of us, entrusting us to His care every day of our lives until the very last day she was able. She prayed we would always remember the One who loved us so much that He died for us. Because she introduced us to the God she knew and loved, we have the assurance we will see her again!
Mom had a servant’s heart and was dedicated to her volunteer work at Grandview/Grace Pointe Crossing. She regularly served coffee until she no longer had the strength in her hands to do it safely. She also played piano for hymn sings and chapel services there until she lost feeling in her fingertips and felt she couldn’t do justice to the old hymns. She hated to give it up but said, “it was time.” When Mom was in her early-80s, she talked about her “youth ministry.” On Fridays, she picked up a few of her young (70-something) lady friends, who no longer drove, to take them grocery shopping.
Our beautiful, witty, amazing Mom went home to be with her Lord and Savior at 3 pm on October 8th, 2019. She was surrounded by all five of her children and her only daughter-in-law, with two of her daughters holding her hands. They were singing some of her favorite hymns, when she opened her eyes just a tiny bit as if to take one more look at us. Then she slipped away peacefully to be with Jesus and reunite with those who preceded her: Husband, JD Johnson; parents, Hilma and Olaf P Ling; infant sister, Ruth Miriam Ling; uncle Victor (Francis) Larson; aunts Dora (Arthur Anderson) Grosshauser, Vera (Alec) Peterson, Anna (John) Stone; several cousins and other relatives and friends.
She is survived by son Lee Donald (Beverly) Johnson; daughters Mary Alice (David) Determan, Christine Anne (James) Reynolds, Carol Marie (Thomas) Siemens and Ruth Ellen (Loran) Beumer; grandkids Hans (Nais) Johnson, Eve (Joseph) Gauthier, Ethan Reynolds (Christy and Mariana Messer), Caleb Reynolds; great grands Jude Gauthier, Maeve Gauthier and Katura Beumer; cousins, nieces, nephews, many friends and lives touched about whom we will never know.
A Memorial Service will be held at 11AM, Saturday, October 26, 2019 at North Isanti Baptist Church with Rev. Travis Blake officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Private interment will be in the church cemetery.
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