In Memory of

Cleo Laverne Johnson

February 4, 1926 - April 6, 2020
From: Spencer, IA
Cleo Laverne Johnson

Cleo Laverne Johnson

Born: February 4, 1926
Died: April 6, 2020
Age: 94

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     Cleo LaVerne Johnson the son of Earl and Elsie (Giberson) Johnson, was born in February 4, 1926 at McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD. At the age of 5 the family moved into Montrose, SD, where Cleo attended school to graduation in 1944. As a boy he loved hunting and playing baseball, something he passed on to his children. Following graduation, he proudly served 2 years in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theatre. During his service Cleo had the privilege of serving on a newly built destroyer-the USS James C. Owens. At the end of WWII following his honorable discharge, he attended the University of South Dakota for two years. 
      Cleo moved to Spencer, IA in 1949 where he met “my beautiful farm girl” Marilyn Culver. They were united in marriage on June 2, 1950 and shared a wonderful life of  70 years together. They are the proud parents of three sons and a daughter. Cleo was a very loving husband and father. He was a longtime member of the Methodist Church in Dickens where he served as Treasurer for 20 years. He shared his love and talent for sports by starting and coaching the first Little League team in Dickens. He later played ball in the Spencer Senior League. Cleo’s job that he loved was his 30 years as a Rural mail carrier for the Dickens and Webb areas, as well as the RLCA treasurer. Cleo was a member of the Dickens and Spencer American Legions for over 50 years. He was active on the Site Council and delivered Meals on Wheels for the Senior Center. After retirement Cleo and Marilyn enjoyed many winter seasons in the Rio Grande Valley, TX.
     Cleo passed away peacefully on Monday, April 6, 2020 in Spencer at the age of 94. He is preceded in death by his parents; his siblings: Clyde, Lyndal, Glenn and Truman and Beulah in infancy.
     Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Marilyn of Spencer, IA; his children: Bob (Chris) Johnson of Dickens, IA, Ron (Betty) Johnson of Sioux Falls, SD, Jerry (Fawn) Johnson of Manheim, PA and Rene Atchison of  Sioux Falls, SD; his grandchildren: Jennifer (Rich) Goll, Heather (Adam) Warren, Dan Johnson, Jamie (Gordon) Varuska, Angela (Tom) Cutshall, Elizabeth (Brady) McGeough, Jacob Johnson, Jessica Johnson; two step-grandchildren: Krystal and Andrew; great grandchildren; nieces and nephews; a sister, Evelyn (Jack) VanNorman; other relatives and friends.
Due to the Covid-19 virus, Memorial Services will be held at a later date.
Riverside Cemetery
Spencer, Iowa


Monday, May 18, 2020 at 7:59 AM
“Marilyn and family,
My deepest sympathy to you at the loss of Cleo. You were the best neighbors! Praise God for wonderful memories and knowing you will be reunited in heaven.
- Barb (Larson) Jacobson
Friday, May 1, 2020 at 8:04 AM
“Mrs Johnson and family... So sorry for your loss...I remember Cleo with mail route.and brother Tom was good friend of Bob's!!”
- Barb Culver
Monday, April 20, 2020 at 10:20 AM
“We are so sorry for you loss, your family in our thoughts and prayers. ”
- Denny and Kerry King
Saturday, April 11, 2020 at 7:40 PM
“Marilyn and Family
So sorry for your loss:(
Take care and God Bless ✝️
Randy and Suzanne Krukow ”
- Randy Krukow
Saturday, April 11, 2020 at 4:55 PM
“To the Johnson family he was our mail carrier for many years so sorry for your loss ”
- Colleen & Bob Dillard
Saturday, April 11, 2020 at 1:21 PM
“I'm sorry for your loss. He's in his heavenly home. Praying for your family”
- Andy nelson
Saturday, April 11, 2020 at 12:17 PM
“To the Johnson family,
our prayers to the family, Cleo also delivered our mail, as kids and took a few minutes to visit if we met at the mailbox, and later stopped to talk if we saw him and Marilyn in town. May God Bless”
- Mark &Alene (Brinkley) Peters and Family
Friday, April 10, 2020 at 5:17 PM
“Marilyn and family
I’m so sorry to hear of Cleo’s passing. He will always be remembered, for being such a kind man, who really enjoyed his family and friends.
In the summer, the four of us kids loved to run to the mailbox, not to get the mail, but visit with our friend, Cleo.
- Debbie Ball Tryggestad
Friday, April 10, 2020 at 10:54 AM
“Cleo was a unifying patriarch to an extended family of relatives and friends. His home always welcomed us.”
- Vicki Johnson Neff
Friday, April 10, 2020 at 10:54 AM
“So many incredible memories in Spencer, Iowa. A rousing game of cards or dice on the patio with cheese balls aplenty, and Cleo always at the ready with his camera to document the moments he loved. Only genuine kindness and hospitality were found in the Johnson household each summer we visited. Getting to know Cleo and learning about my own grandfather through him was a blessing I will forever cherish. Sincerest condolences to this beautiful family. Much love to you, Marilyn.”
- Carrie Brinkmeier
Friday, April 10, 2020 at 8:04 AM
“My Dad, Stan Andersen was the postmaster in Dickens. I remember Cleo, when I would come and visit my Dad at work. He was a kind and gentle man. Sweet smile, a joke or two, and a twinkle in his eye. My Dad always had kind words about him I am sorry for your loss, this world has lost a gem. May God give you comfort and peace at this time. ”
- Lisa Andersen Buchan
Friday, April 10, 2020 at 5:59 AM
“Marilyn, sorry to hear of Cleo's passing. My thoughts and prayers to you and the family.”
- Tim McVinua
Friday, April 10, 2020 at 5:59 AM
“We are so sorry to hear about Cleo. May our Lord walk along side of you in the days ahead. Cleo was a friendly man who always knew you and was fun to visit with. Prayers for Cleo’s family.”
- Monica and Gary Johannsen
Friday, April 10, 2020 at 5:59 AM
“Our family will always have fond memories of Cleo. He was such a good friend, so kind and caring. Growing up my nickname was Charlie Brown, and whenever I returned to the Dickens area, , Cleo would always call me by that name, even years later. It was very heartwarming to hear. He was such a genuine person, with a great sense of humor and quick smile. What a blessing to have had him in our lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. ”
- Lynette (Carlson} Kaspor / Charlie Brown
Friday, April 10, 2020 at 5:58 AM
- Lori Pooler Beal
Thursday, April 9, 2020 at 5:41 PM
“Marilyn, I'm so sorry to hear of Cleo's passing. You are very special to me. May your faith carry you thru this difficult time, Crystal Handy ”
- Crystal Handy
Thursday, April 9, 2020 at 4:10 PM
“His a life well lived and a fond lasting legacy to us all who loved him.”
Thursday, April 9, 2020 at 10:21 AM
“Sorry for you loss. Rest in Peace Zip Code”
- Tammy Nighswonger
Thursday, April 9, 2020 at 10:21 AM
“My Grampa
Written by his granddaughter Elizabeth, “Tinkerbell”
April 6, 2020

He was a good man. He lived a good life. He was loved.

He treasured his wife and he was adored by all. He never said an unkind word to anyone or about anyone. He was clever. He was soft-spoken. He never spoke harshly. He was honest, humble and full of integrity. He was proud of his grandchildren. Everywhere we went he introduced me to people as his granddaughter and “can you believe this little gal is a schoolmarm” he would ask them. He was always friendly and polite to strangers. He was the kindest person I will ever know.

He loved to feed birds. He knew all the different species and what food they each liked. Feeding the birds made him happy. He taught me all about songbirds. He wrote in my bird book on the page about the pelican, “The pelican is a strange bird. It’s beak can hold more than its belly-can!”

He loved to tell jokes like that, clean and quirky. He had a sense of humor and his eyes would twinkle when he was waiting to tell the punch line. There were so many funny things he would say. His longest jokes were actually stories. When his grandchildren were all young, he told us Old Timer Stories. These were stories about grizzly old men in the wilderness who always found themselves in unlikely predicaments and were often outsmarted by animals.

He loved to take pictures of people, birds, deer and scenery. He always had a camera around his neck. He enjoyed watching the Minnesota Twins play ball on TV. He enjoyed playing card games and Dice with his family and friends. He liked to win, but being with people he cared about was most important. He made home-made ice cream with Gramma’s recipe. He loved her home-made ice cream. He liked to make pancakes for breakfast and drink his coffee real slow. He loved to take Sunday drives around town or in the country with his wife, enjoying the scenery, talking with Gramma, reminiscing. He danced under the blue, summer sky with his bride of 50+ years at my wedding. He enjoyed when family visited and would say goodbye with, “Keep those cards and letters coming.” He liked receiving mail.

He spent his childhood with his family on a farm in South Dakota in the 1930s. Then he served his country in the Navy during WW2. He married the love of his life in 1950 and spent nearly 70 amazing years with “his beautiful, little farm girl from Iowa”. They raised their four children on her ancestral homestead in Iowa. His career path led him to being a mailman, faithfully and cheerfully delivering letters and postcards to rural folks. He took his family on summer trips in the western part of the US. He loved his family. He loved his home. He loved his country.

This brief description of his life is before my time. My memories of Grampa begin in the mid-1980s. So this is who he was to me. These are my treasured memories of my dear, beloved Grampa.

Grampa shared stories of his childhood and his life with me. Several years ago I told Grampa that I wished I could have lived in those times. He told me, “Well, Tinkerbell, the best time to live is now. In your time.” So I will live my life in my time. I will live my life with kindness and cheerfulness as my Grampa lived his life.

A man’s life cannot be summarized into a single page or two. I know there are memories my family will remind me of, more of my childhood memories with Grampa and their own personal memories. This is what I know and remember on this day, the day he has left the world. I know this…

He was a good man. He lived a good life. He was loved.

Cleo Johnson: husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, friend, US mailman, WW2 Navy Veteran
February 4, 1926-April 6, 2020

- Elizabeth
Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 6:42 PM
“Marilyn and family; We are saddened to hear of Cleo’s passing. He was such a kind man, and the two of you made such a lovely couple. May our good Lord wrap you in His loving arms. ❤️”
- Bob & Nira Rusk
Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 6:42 PM
“I am so sadden by the news of Cleo's passing. He was such a great person and a wonderful mail carrier. Always had a smile on his face and he so enjoyed his family. Will lift you up in my prayers.”
- renee pierson
Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 4:44 PM
“I remember meeting him delivering mail. Meryl Smith was my stepdad and I would ride with him to deliver mail and we would see him. Also the Rural Carriers suppers. Rest in peace. Sorry for your loss
- Tammy Nighswonger
Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 4:44 PM
“to family of Cleo Johnson. You have my prayers for comfort as you lovingly remember the man who was your patriarch and who means the world to you. Being a rural mail carrier for years, Cleo knew everyone and everyone knew him. He was an asset to our community well liked admired respected by everyone. I always enjoyed when I had opportunity to visit with Cleo. He was a sweet kindhearted gentleman whose legacy with live on in the family he loves dearly. He will forever be in your hearts. God’s peace, LaVonne & Gary”
- LaVonne Salton & Gary Anderson
Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 1:08 PM
“Marilyn, so sorry to hear of your loss. Has been many years since I've seen you, but I am sending my sympathy, and will keep you in my prayers.”
- Doris Hamilton Lang
Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 5:23 AM
“Marilyn & family. So Sorry for you loss. ”
- Pete & Rosemary Norgaard
Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 5:23 AM
“So very sorry to hear about Cleo. Marilyn, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.”
- Nita Richards
Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 5:23 AM
“So sorry to hear that Cleo went to Heaven. He was our mailman for several years Enjoyed seeing him after they moved to town. May you each fine comfort and peace knowing he is in his Heavenly home and know suffering. God Bless !”
- Doris Salton
Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 5:22 AM
“Marilyn so sorry to hear of Cleo’s passing. It was always great to see you at Burger King. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.”
- Mark Pearson
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 3:40 PM
“Marilyn and family,
We are saddened by the death of Cleo. What a wonderful man! Our prayers are with you.”
- Shirley Selzer
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