Henry “Hank” Johnson, 81, of Sturtevant passed away Sunday, May 24, 2009, following a short illness. He was born April 30, 1928, in Union County, Illinois, to Henry Vernon and Mae (Hawkins) Johnson.
He attended Wolf Lake High School, Wolf Lake, Illinois. He served in the United States Navy from 1945 until 1948 in the Pacific Theater as a deep sea diver. Following his discharge from the Navy he moved to Sturtevant to join his uncles working for the Milwaukee Road Railroad. It was in Sturtevant that he met Betty Gastrow. They were married May 21, 1949, at Holy Communion Lutheran Church in Racine, celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary last week. They have lived their entire married life in Sturtevant.
Hank was very active in the community as a member of the Sturtevant Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, serving as Chief in the mid-1960s. He coached Pony League and Colt League Youth Baseball for more than 25 years, leaving an indelible mark on the youth of the community.
He served as Sturtevant’s Civil Defense Coordinator for more than 30 years and was a member of the Village’s Police and Fire Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals for many years. Hank was a charter member of the Sturtevant Lions Club, serving many terms as President, as well as Secretary, Treasurer and most other offices during the 38 years reign of the club. He was a member and Past Commander of VFW Post #9948.
In 1979 he was named the Sturtevant Man of the Year by the Sturtevant Chamber of Commerce and was honored to throw out the first pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium. He was honored by the Village of Sturtevant with the naming of the South Park Baseball Fields for him and his fellow baseball coach, Duane Fink. He received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Village of Sturtevant in 1993 for more than 23 years of faithful service to the community in all capacities.
He worked at J.I. Case Company from 1957 until his retirement in 1990 as a welder and millwright and was a 33-year member of Local 180 UAW. He was also employed by Western Printing and Racine Plating Company after leaving the railroad.
Hank is survived by his wife, Betty; daughter and son-in-law, Debbie and Bob Collins of East Troy; son and daughter-in-law, John and Beth Johnson of Sturtevant, five grandchildren, Tim (Katey) and Steve (Amy) Collins, Kristi (Jamie) Opper, Scott (Kim) and Dan Johnson; and two step-grandchildren, Nick (Dina) and Noah Wood; as well as five great-grandchildren, Calvin, Carter, Lilah, and Brady Collins, and Dylan Johnson. He is further survived by one brother, Bill (Donna) Taylor of Kentucky; two aunts, Dorothy Smiddy and Jane Duncan of Illinois; one sister-in-law, Shirley Mau of Sturtevant; one brother-in-law, William (Ruth) Gastrow of Racine; nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. He was predeceased by his parents, two brothers, and three sisters.
Visitation will be at the Draeger Langendorf Funeral Home on Wednesday, May 27, 2009, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the evening and on Thursday, May 28, from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service. Burial will follow at the U.S. Veterans Cemetery, Union Grove.
Memorials may be made to the Faith Lutheran Church, Sturtevant, or the Wisconsin Lions Camp, 46 County Road A, Rosholt, Wisconsin 54473-9335 in Hank’s memory.
Draeger Langendorf Funeral Home