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Pause Days Gone By by Bruce H. Zimmerman (ASCAP)
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Thank you for your support during this difficult time. Please enhance this tribute to Walt by adding your memories and photos.

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Kotrba-Smith Funeral Home

Kotrba-Smith Funeral Home
101 Gerkin
Gregory, SD 57533
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Memories & Candles

“I was sorry to learn of Walt's death. He and Jeannine were great friends to my Mom and Dad (Tony and Liz) and especially kind to my Mom in her last...Read More »
1 of 3 | Posted by: Stephanie Weigel - Omaha, NE

“Our hearts go out to all the family. Walt has been a good neighbor to three generations of us. Dad considered Walt a good friend and enjoyed the...Read More »
2 of 3 | Posted by: Merrill and Lynn McFayden - SD

“My sincere condolences to the Johnson family. Walt was such a fun person to be around. I have great memories of his and Janinne's visits to Michigan...Read More »
3 of 3 | Posted by: Suzette (Sam) Johnson - MI


Walter Marion Johnson, the fourth of six children, was born on July 11, 1930, to Axel and Alice (Nelson) Johnson on a farm near Winner, SD. Walter attended grade school at a rural school near his home for eight years and for four years attended high school at Colome High School in Colome, SD, graduating in the spring of 1948. While in high school Walter participated in football, basketball, track, and played the cornet in band and was the Valedictorian.

After leaving high school Walter (Walt as he became known) was employed by Van Collins Implement for the summer. At the end of summer he enrolled at the School of Mines and Technology at Rapid City, SD, and attended for two years. He then resumed working for Van Collins Implement. After a year of employment Walt returned to the "Mines" and graduated in 1953 with a degree in General Engineering. He was then employed by Northwestern Bell Telephone Company starting out as a lineman.

While still attending college in Rapid City, Walt married Jeannine Kinzer on February 11, 1951 and to this union three sons were born, Steven, Scott, and Stuart. Walter loved his children and together they did much camping, fishing, and hunting. Camping started out in a station wagon tent and progressed to a converted bus and then a fifth wheel camper. After retirement Walt and Jeannine traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and Hawaii.

Walter's professional career with Northwestern Bell Telephone Company encompassed some 36 years over which there were many transfers and promotions: twice to Omaha, NE; once to Sioux Falls, SD; then Huron, SD; and twice to Des Moines, IA. One transfer in particular involved a trip to Europe during which he visited with European government and communication executives. Sometimes these transfers came with more education, culminating in his being privileged to be chosen to attend MIT in Boston, MA for a year of study resulting in a MA in Business Administration. When AT&T was "broken up" Walt was one of several employees in upper management instrumental in dissolving the monopoly. Walt then went to work at an AT&T spin-off company called Belcore (Bell Communication Research) and became the Assistant Vice President until retirement in 1989. It was at this time they purchased their home near Gregory and later a winter home in Phoenix, AZ.

Time spent on the farm involved enjoying his children, grandchildren, and extended family, attending football games at Colome (which he rarely missed), square dancing, wintering in Arizona, mowing, and plowing snow.

Walt passed away peacefully with his loving wife of almost 65 years, Jeannine, at his side on January 21, 2016. He will surely be missed by all.

Walt is survived by his wife, Jeannine of Gregory, SD; sons, Steven of Sioux Falls, SD, Scott of Columbus, NJ, and Stuart and wife Stacy of Des Moines, IA; seven grandchildren, Michael, Philip, Sarah, Justin, Joshua, Andrew, and Emily as well as three great-grandchildren, Tristan, Jaspar, and Emrie; sisters-in-law Nikki Johnson, Evelyn Kinzer, Leila Adams, and Diana Syfie; brothers-in-law Russell and Darol Kinzer; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Walt is preceded in death by his parents, Alice and Axel, brothers Harold, Raymond, and Richard, sisters Anna and Idalee, and daughter-in-law Denise Johnson.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Funeral services for Walt Johnson, 85, of Gregory, SD, were held Saturday, January 30, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Gregory with Pastor Royal Archer officiating. A visitation was held Friday evening at Kotrba-Smith Funeral Home.

Sara Johnson and Emily Johnson were in charge of registration.

Music was provided by soloist Todd Mundhenke singing "Amazing Grace" and "The Wings of a Dove" accompanied by Sara Klein, pianist. Congregational hymns were "In the Garden" and "The Old Rugged Cross."

Flower attendants were Leila Adams, Diana Syfie, Evelyn Kinzer, and Jeanette Sinkular.

Casket Bearers were Michael Johnson, Andrew Johnson, Philip Johnson, Justin Johnson, Joshua Johnson, and Bruce Adams.

Burial was in the Colome City Cemetery, Colome, SD.