Sunrise, October 12, 1929—Sunset, December 15, 2020
Our beloved Earnest Columbus Johnson, affectionately known as Ernie to family and friends, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 in Plymouth, Minnesota, at age 91. He was surrounded by his devoted and caring wife Geraldine, and his loving daughter Renee.
Earnest was born on Columbus Day, October 12, 1929, in Jellico, Tennessee, and was the youngest of six children born to parents John B. and Blanche Helen Johnson. He was preceded in death by his siblings Rose of New York City; Johnny (Mildred) of Detroit; Viola (Matthew Johnson Sr.) of Golden Valley; Ora Mae of Minneapolis; and Belle, who died in infancy; his grandparents Ennis and Carrie Johnson; and his paternal aunts C. Elizabeth of St. Paul, and Mary (Benjamin Younge) of St. Paul.
Earnest moved from Jellico to St. Paul at age 14. He attended John Marshall High School in St. Paul. After high school, Earnest served for three years in the United States Army during the Korean War. He was stationed domestically, at various bases, including Fort Stewart in Georgia.
Earnest was first introduced to the love of his life when she traveled from Texas to Minnesota in 1960 to visit her three paternal uncles Dr. Thomas, Richard and Harvey Johnson, and their families in Minneapolis.
Earnest and Geraldine married just five days after being introduced, and they enjoyed 60 years together. God blessed them with two beautiful children and a loving granddaughter.
Earnest had a lifelong career in Onboard Services with Burlington Northern Railroad and Amtrak, traveling the Great Northern route from Chicago to Seattle.
He and his family were lifelong members of St. Peter’s A.M.E. Church. He enjoyed his many friends and time with family gatherings. He could be found on the golf course and was known for his friendliness and camaraderie. He was “Old Dude” to his golfing buddies, many of whom were also railroad men at the Sterling Club in St. Paul.
Earnest and Geraldine retired and moved from their home in Edina to Tallahassee, Florida, in 1995. They joined the Bethel A.M.E. Church community. Earnest volunteered at the municipal course in Tallahassee, where he worked with the youth golf program. Earnest and Geraldine returned to Minnesota in 2019.
Earnest is survived by his dear wife Geraldine, his children Michael (Carol) of Summit, New Jersey, and Renee (Karl Hilton) of Plymouth, Minnesota, and their daughter, Taylor. He leaves to cherish his memory his niece-in-law Carol Johnson-Dean, his cousin Penda Kane, and a host of other cousins, grandnieces, grandnephews, and friends who remain forever grateful for having had him in their lives.
The family would like to extend a special note of thanks to Laurie Coleman-Lankford for providing such wonderful care for Earnest.
A graveside service and burial will be scheduled for August at Fort Snelling, and a livestream will be available. In lieu of flowers, please donate to a cancer charity, a youth golf program or a charity of your own choice.
Final arrangements: Estes Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services, EstesFuneralChapel.com, 612-521-6744.