LaVerne Sylvan Johnson, 96, of Mabel, died Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, at the Green Lea Manor Nursing Home in Mabel.

He was born Jan. 5, 1917, on the family homestead farm near Newburg, Minn., to Bennett and Tilla (Garness) Johnson. He attended the Newburg School through the eighth grade and graduated from Mabel High School in 1934. He attended Winona Business College for a short time, but became sick with hepatitis and wasn't able to continue.

He moved with the family to Tawney, Minn., in 1932, and during the Depression years, he worked on the construction of dams on the Mississippi River. Later, he worked as a farm hand with his father and surrounding neighbors.

In 1938, he started farming on his grandfather's farm near Newburg, where LaVerne was born and lived until 1932.

On Oct. 5, 1940, he was united in marriage to Mildred Anderson at the Elstad Lutheran Church, rural Lanesboro.

In January 1946, they moved to the Luther Kingstad farm near Tawney and stayed there until retiring to Mabel in 1985. He always regarded Luther as a special friend.

He enjoyed farming, Hereford and Holstein cattle, John Deere tractors, straight corn rows, well-kept machinery and had a great concern for soil conservation.

He was an avid reader with a special interest in history, sports, church history and helping people with genealogy.

He also liked bookkeeping and during high school wrote a sports page for "The Mabel Hi-lites." He enjoyed playing horseshoes, croquet and dartball, as well as visiting with "Coffee Buddies" at Mabel restaurants.

After retiring, he helped with the Steam Engine Museum, former neighbors with spring fieldwork, and delivered Meals-on-Wheels.

He was a life-long member of the Scheie Lutheran Church where he was baptized, confirmed, attended Sunday School and served on the council.

Survivors include his wife, Mildred of Mabel; two children, LaVaughn (Paul) Vitse of Mabel, and Jim (Barb) Johnson of Eau Claire, Wis.; three grandchildren, Cassie (Ben) Brenden, Clay (Beth) Johnson and Camren Johnson; four great-grandchildren, Hailey and Hannah Brenden and Myles and Reed Johnson; a sister, Shirley Ellestad of Spring Grove; and sister-in-laws, Dagney Anderson, Marian Anderson, Dorothy Anderson and Irma Johnson; as well as several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a stepmother, Lela (Springmire) Johnson; a son-in-law, Robert Johnson; a grandson, Todd Johnson; and brothers, Dale and Wayne Johnson.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Scheie Lutheran Church in rural Mabel with the Rev. Mary Waudby officiating. Interment will be in the church cemetery.

The Mengis Funeral Home in Mabel is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be left at www.mengisfuneralhome.com.