Arlen Johnson

Obituary of Arlen Johnson

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John Arlen Johnson was born on July 25, 1936, in a hospital in Red Oak, Iowa. If you asked Arlen to tell you about that day, he’d always begin, “It was the hottest day on record!”  The temperature was a sweltering 114 degrees in Red Oak. To this day, it is still the hottest day in recorded history.

Arlen was the first son of John Arnold Johnson and Margaret Johnson, and one of eight children.

He attended Johnson School Douglas #6, a one-room schoolhouse just down the hill from his home. In the winter, he’d sled down the hill, which was more fun than trudging through the snow. Throughout his childhood, he worked on the farm tending livestock, raising crops, and milking cows. In addition to farm life, he played high school football and was in 4-H where he showed cattle.

Arlen graduated from Clarinda High School in 1954 and worked on the family farm for his dad for five years before he was drafted into the Army.  During those five years, Arlen enjoyed roller skating at Porter’s Lake roller-skating rink and asked a young lady (Lavone Lorimor) to skate with him. His steady hands guided her around the rink, and they found a unison in step that guided them—not only on that day on the roller rink but also into a two-year courtship and a loving marriage of 62 years. 

The two were wed on December 26, 1959, at the First United Methodist Church in Shenandoah, Iowa.

Two months prior to marriage, Arlen was drafted into the United States Army in October 1959 and proudly served his country. Following their wedding, he and Lavone traveled to El Paso, TX; where he was stationed at Fort Hood. He received his formal training in Texas and was then stationed in Michigan and Illinois as a radar operator. Army life included traveling from base to base—including El Paso, Texas, Chicago, IL; Ludington, MI;, and finally Arlington Heights, IL. The couple lived in Arlington Heights for a short time, which is where their first child, Jana, was born.

When Arlen’s father became ill, Arlen and his growing family returned to rural southwest Iowa so he could care for his father’s farm. During that time, their second daughter, Jenise, was born. Several years later, Arlen and Lavone bought 80 acres of farmland and established their own farm. In 1971, their family was complete with the birth of their son, John Alan.

The smell of coffee and the sound of KMA markets started farm life mornings off for Arlen. Over a lifetime of farming, they successfully raised hogs, fed-out cattle, had a cow herd, and raised row crops (corn and soybeans). Arlen was so proud when his family was featured on “Farm Family of the Week” on WOW-TV, Channel 6 news in Omaha, Nebraska.

Arlen treasured his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They all endearingly called him Grampy. He loved taking them on the combine, going for 4-wheeler rides, and showing them how to tell if the soybeans were ready for harvest. In the spring and fall, he’d be right alongside the guys in the timber hunting deer and turkey.

His family knew he was their most enthusiastic cheerleader, and they could count on him to clap the loudest at dance recitals, high school musicals, swim meets, and trap meets. He attended big celebrations like grandparent days and graduations, and also loved just sitting by the lake fishing with them.

In his 80s, as he toasted his son’s marriage, he summed up the toast with his life’s philosophy in two simple words, “Enjoy life.”

Arlen enjoyed many fun family vacations, which included the “RV years.” He and Lavone traveled to Florida beaches in the winter and Alaska in the summer, often with their children, grandchildren, and their families joining them at their destination. In 2023, he celebrated his 87th birthday in Alaska with his son (Alan) and daughter-in-law (Melissa).

Arlen is survived by his children, daughters Jana Reichman (Martin) and Jenise Carl (Kent), son Alan Johnson (Melissa), grandchildren Lindsy Moore (Brandon), Alyssa Berns (Derek), Nate Carl, and Anna Carl. Arlen is blessed with six great-grandchildren Ethan, Austin, and Corbin Moore and Hudson, Griffin, and Hadley Berns. Arlen is survived by siblings Ardelle Geer, Helen Marie Miller, Douglas Johnson, Marlin Johnson, Stanley Johnson, and Ralph Johnson. 

Arlen is preceded in death by his wife, Lavone Johnson. 


Celebration of Life

10:30 am
Friday, July 5, 2024
Clarinda Methodist Church
923 W State Street
Clarinda, Iowa, United States


12:30 pm
Friday, July 5, 2024
Rose Hill Cemetery
307 East Carter Street
Shenandoah, Iowa, United States


Can be made to the Clarinda Methodist Church


A luncheon with fellowship will take place with the family following the service. After the luncheon, we will proceed to the cemetery.
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Arlen Johnson

In Loving Memory

Arlen Johnson

1936 - 2024

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