Clark “Corky” Dennis Johnson
At the age of 84, Clark D. Johnson passed away on January 3, 2023, after an eight year battle with multiple myeloma. He was the youngest of two children born to Florence and Arvid Johnson in Solway, MN, on February 26, 1938. He was preceded in death by his parents, and his sister Jeanette, and brother-in-law Larry.
Clark was a dedicated and loving husband, father, grandpa, son, brother, and friend. He was a generous, caring and loving man who loved sports, the outdoors, music, and a good laugh. He adored his dear wife, Carolyn, whom he was married to for 63 years, and loved spending time with his kids and grandkids. His many friends and relatives were also very dear to him.
He spent much of his childhood in northern Minnesota hunting deer with his father, Arvid, where he developed a love for the outdoors.
He attended Bemidji State University, earning a degree in teaching, where he met the love of his life, Carolyn K. Stejskal, in choir. They were married on September 19, 1959. Corky also attended the University of Minnesota on a baseball scholarship where he played for legendary coach, Dick Siebert.
In March of 1960, Clark started his professional baseball career pitching for the El Paso Sun Kings, a San Francisco Giants minor league team. During his playing years, he and Carolyn traveled to five states, and he ultimately made it to the AAA level.
He loved teaching and coaching. His first job in education started in 1965 in Hutchinson, MN. He taught and coached in Hutchinson, Aitkin and Brainerd. As Brainerd’s head coach, the basketball team made it to the state tournament two years in a row, 1970 and 1971. He had a special relationship with his players and was well respected. An all sports enthusiast, Corky also enjoyed playing racquetball, tennis, golf, and loved watching his dear Vikings and Gophers.
In 1971, he and Carolyn purchased the Plywood Minnesota business and moved their family to Willmar, MN, where they spent the next 20 years. He and Bill Taunton started the Redwood Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament, which provides funding for many youth educational and sports needs in Willmar. In 1992, they built their retirement home on Gull Lake, where they spent their summers, and wintered in Venice, Florida.
Corky’s love for music was evident throughout his lifetime. It was tradition to sit around the table at his family home and sing songs at family celebrations. In his free time, he taught himself to play the guitar. He and Carolyn also sang beautifully at their daughter’s wedding.
Clark is survived by his wife, Carolyn Johnson, his three kids, Steve Johnson (Patti), Terri Dixon (John), Kris Swift (Dan), and 7 grandkids-Joe, Ben, Jenna, Katie, Jonathan (Jacqueline), Tyler and Hannah. Details to follow regarding a Celebration of Life service at 11 a.m. May 20th, 2023, in Nisswa, Minnesota, at Lutheran Church of the Cross. More details to follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts will be directed to support a Gopher baseball athlete:
University of Minnesota Foundation; Attention:
Randy Handel, Sr. Associate Athletic Director
University of Minnesota Athletic Dept.
516 15th Ave. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455