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Obituary: Lyle E. Johnston

Lyle E. Johnston, 97, of Cloquet passed away on Thursday, March 30, 2023, at Diamond Willow Assisted Living in Cloquet.

God, family and country are the three characteristics Lyle strongly believed in and made up his life's journey. Lyle and his wife, Armella, raised five kids and a foster daughter on the principles of the Bible.

He was born in Timber Lake, South Dakota on April 22, 1925, and moved to Proctor at age 2. He grew up quickly during the difficult times of the 1920s through 1940s. He attended school there and was drafted out of high school as soon as he turned 18 in 1943. Lyle proudly served with the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946, and saw significant combat action as an infantry soldier on Kwajalein and in the Philippines and Okinawa. He told a story of being greeted, much to his surprise, by hundreds of Japanese children waving American flags upon a combat landing on the Japanese mainland prior to the Japanese surrender in 1945. He received the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts among other awards, and his unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

Married in 1950, he started his family with his wife, Armella, and they eventually settled in Scanlon. He worked at Northwest Paper and later Potlatch for 35 years. He was hired by Northwest Paper for his baseball skills and, notably, played in the fastpitch softball World Series Tournament. Lyle served as a Fourth Degree Knight with the Knights of Columbus on their many projects around Cloquet to better the community and supported youth activities. Among his other accomplishments, he was elected the justice of peace in Scanlon and led the building of the first hockey rink and basketball court there. He was a basketball, baseball and hockey coach for many years, with several of the kids later playing college and professional sports. He was a part of the VFW, including attending many military funerals as part of the Honor Guard in Cloquet, and later in Arkansas.

Dad loved his family, and is survived by his sister, Ella Bishir of Hilltop Lakes, Texas; son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Terry Johnston, of Canton, Georgia; daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Mike Fernjack, of Cloquet; son and daughter-in-law, Lyle and Patty Johnston, of Shoreview; daughter-in-law, Jennifer Schulz-Johnston (Tom Johnston, deceased) and foster daughter, Deb Melina, of Oregon; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews and nieces who will miss him dearly. Lyle was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Armella (Weiner); his son Thomas Johnston; daughter Erin; parents, Lavern and Gertrude Johnston; and brothers Toby, Leslie, Robert and Wayne.

A memorial service was held April 4 at Nelson Funeral Care in Cloquet. Burial will be held at a later date in Mondovi, Wisconsin.

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