Obituary: Howard Johnson

OLYMPIA, WA (October 17, 2017) – Retired Covenant pastor Howard Johnson, 91, died Saturday, September 30, in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

He was born October 11, 1925, in Foley, Minnesota. He graduated from North Park College and North Park Theological Seminary.

He married Arleen Youngberg on April 18, 1953. She survives.

Howard served Hillsview Covenant Church in Gresham, Oregon; Teien Covenant Church in Drayton, North Dakota; Rochester (Minnesota) Covenant Church; the Evangelical Covenant Church in Milwaukie, Oregon; Sunset Covenant Church in Portland, Oregon; and Grace Community Covenant Church in Olympia, Washington, where he was the first full-time pastor.

Howard was known to roam his neighborhoods knocking on doors because he wanted to meet his neighbors and show God’s kindness to them. For many years he spent his days off visiting prisons and jails to meet with those who had been tried, convicted, judged—and forgotten—in order to listen to them and share with them new hope in Christ. His children remember at least 30 different individuals that Howard took in to live with the family at various points, creating dozens of extended family members.

In addition to Arleen, survivors include two sons, Marlan and Evan Johnson; a daughter, Myrna Olson; seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be conducted at 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 4, at Grace Community Covenant in Olympia. People can submit video tributes online by Monday, October 23.

Memorials may be sent to Orchard Ridge Assisted Living, 624 W. Harrison, Coeur D’Alene, Idaho 83814.

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  1. I was privileged to serve as Pastor Howard’s secretary at Grace Community Covenant for ten years. I once read that the word pastor means shepherd. And that certainly describes Pastor Howard. He led by example, living a life that exemplified that of Christ. He fed his flock with the truth of the gospel. He comforted those who were hurting and discouraged. He encouraged the body to be in God’s Word. And he admonished those who had gone astray.

    I have many fond memories of those years, but one of my favorite was hearing Howard’s booming voice echoing off the walls in the Sanctuary as he sang one of his favorite hymns, “Majesty.” How he loved to praise his Savior! And now his voice will resound again as part of a heavenly celestial choir.

    He and his wife, Arleen, were a great team, leading, comforting, encouraging, and praying with and for us, but most of all, loving us with the love of Christ. Their legacy will live on through the lives of those they touched.

  2. My earliest memories of Howard was caring for our family from a distance as he was in Rochester,MN and we were in Foley. He would suddenly pull in the driveway and ask, do you want to go to camp with Evan. So in about 20-30minutes we were on our way to Lake Beauty. He also picked me up for a Lake of the Woods fishing trip. I caught nothing but I still had fun, and for the record I still have trouble catching fish but have that great memory of the trip. Our families even took a trip to a well know lake called Lake sissy wet back. I don’t remember the Indian name but they told us that is what it stood for, and we laughed every time we said it. Mom and Dad joked with Howard and Arleen because one of their beds was shaped like a V and the other like an upside down V. So they joked about trading beds in the middle of the week to get some time together or apart.
    Later in my life he shared how Mom had struggled with pain as she passed away. He seem to understand that I needed to know but didn’t know how to ask. Perhaps it was all that pastoral experience or the Lord just told him to share it with me. Things like this make an impact on people. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt Howard did similar conversations with many others. I Praise God for my uncle! What a wonder servant of our gracious and merciful God.
    I also look forward to the reunion in the sky. What day what a glorious day it will be!

  3. Howard was such an encouragement during those years that we shared as Oregon pastors. His model of immersion in his parish community sparked my imagination of how I could be involved in my community beyond my congregation. His warmth, his intelligence, his compassion, his self-deprecating sense of humor were infectious. May God honor his memory among us.

  4. Daryl and I were so very blessed to follow the Johnsons at Sunset. They served us as mentors and friends as this was our first pastorate out of seminary. The kingdom of God was greatly enlarged due to their love for Jesus and people. We look forward to our reunion in heaven!
    Chaplain Jason Knudeson, United States Air Force

  5. I will never forget Howard visiting North Park Seminary while I was there with his son Marlyn. He inspired us to find ways to connect with the community and to reach out in creative ways to connect people with God’s grace. He obviously cared about people and giving them an opportunity to know and be known by God. I have always been grateful for the time he spent with us! Praying now for his family and friends.

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