Cover photo for Paul Johnson's Obituary
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1932 Paul 2020

Paul Johnson

July 29, 1932 — November 12, 2020

Paul Johnson, age 88, of Waukesha, died in Green Bay, Wis., under hospice care on Nov. 12, 2020.
Born July 29, 1932, with twin brother, James, in Chicago to the late Myrtle and Emil Johnson. Paul excelled at several sports throughout high school and college, including baseball, football and basketball. He attended North Park College, then transferred to and graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign, earning a degree in civil engineering.
Paul entered the Army in 1955, and on a three-day pass married the love of his life, Shirley (nee Juncker), on Nov. 5, 1955, at Covenant Church in Hinsdale, Ill. The Johnsons spent their brief honeymoon in the Smoky Mountains, which became an annual stop on their travels to and from Florida later in life.
During Paul’s two years of duty, he was stationed in Hawaii with brother Jim, and was joined by Shirley. Following discharge, Wisconsin became the Johnsons’ home.
Paul’s career included positions with the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, Johnson, Avril & Assoc., and R.A. Smith. Paul and Shirley were founding members of Southminster Presbyterian Church in Waukesha, and Paul fondly recalled many years of service to others, including ministering and mentoring men preparing to leave a local prison. The Johnsons led over 60 mission trips to Guatemala, the Philippines, Bolivia, Armenia, Georgia, and El Salvador building bridges, schools, and water projects.
Traveling, hiking and walking with Shirley in places like the Smokies, Hawaii and Florida were among Paul's favorite activities. Together, the pair visited most national parks, many state parks, almost every state in the U.S. and ventured further to Europe and Asia. Golfing was Paul's greatest hobby, and he took every opportunity to play a quick 9 holes well into his 80s.
Throughout his life, Paul cultivated a love of music, starting as a schoolboy in his father's church choir and later in barbershop quartet groups. As a freshman in college, Paul, along with brother Jim and friend Jim Aspegren formed The Washtub Trio, a musical and comedy act that was known for its smooth three-part harmony and humorous skits. Paul loved recalling The Trio’s career-highlight performing their “cowboy” repertoire at Chicago’s fancy Orchestra Hall.
Paul was a gentle, loving and kind husband, father and friend. His sense of humor remained intact, even as he began losing a battle with dementia. One of Paul’s favorite jokes was to answer “both” when given a choice of options, especially when it came to ice cream flavors. He enjoyed “surprising” people with unexpected answers, and he had perfected a dead-pan style that often caught many by surprise and that he passed on to his sons. For years, the larger Johnson family grew Christmas trees in Shawano, Glidden, and Adams County and had many trips to trim in the summers and harvest in November.
After losing Shirley in 2019, Paul spent his remaining years at Avalon Square in Waukesha and The Courtyard at Bellevue in Green Bay, where he was known as a "true gentleman" for his impeccable manners, quiet spirit and thoughtfulness toward others.
While Paul battled dementia, the cause of his death was COVID-19, which he contracted in late October. He also had been recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. His family is grateful he did not suffer and is convinced that Paul is lacing up his shoes for 5-mile walks again with Shirley.
Paul was preceded in death by his beloved Shirley, infant son Daniel and brother Jim. He is survived by his children: Peter Johnson (Sarah Nelson), Lisa Johnson (Jeffrey Kao), Dean Johnson (Cindy Johnson), and Kent Johnson; his grandchildren: Joshua Johnson (Naimh), Kaelene Johnson (Adrian) Acosta, Becky Johnson (Riley) Smyth, Olivia Johnson (Chandler) Kassner, Anika Johnson, Nathan Watermolen, Bailey Watermolen, Emmalee Johnson-Kao, Jacob Johnson, Aaron Johnson, and Forest Kilmer-Johnson; five great-grandchildren; older brother Bill (Marianne); sister-in-law Janice; nieces, nephews and many other family and friends.
A virtual celebration of life service with Southminster Presbyterian Church will be at 1 p.m. (Central) on Saturday, Nov. 21.

To join, please copy and paste the following link into a web browser:
If you are asked to provide a passcode, it is: Love

Memorials should be directed to the Paul and Shirley Mission Fund at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 200 Richard St, Waukesha, WI 53189

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Paul Johnson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life Service

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

A virtual celebration of life service with Southminster Presbyterian Church. To join, please copy and paste the following link into a web browser: If you are asked to provide a passcode, it is: Love

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