Obituaries » Richard D Johnson
February 3, 1935 - May 26, 2022
Richard Dean Johnson, 87, formerly of Sheldahl, Iowa, passed away on May 26, 2022 after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, at Madrid Evangelical Free Church (2243 S Ave., Madrid, Iowa 50156). A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, also at the church. Burial will be at Sheldahl Cemetery in Sheldahl, Iowa.
Richard “Dick” Johnson was born on February 3, 1935 to Harry and Clarice Johnson in Spencer, Nebraska. The youngest of six children, Dick learned the value of work at a young age as he helped support his family- first by delivering newspapers and working in the newspaper office, later by working at Krotter’s in Spencer in their dealership, hardware store, and garage. After graduating from Spencer High School in 1952, he earned a degree from General Motors Institute in Flint, Michigan in 1954 in their dealer cooperative program.
Dick worked as an automotive parts and service manager in Madrid, Iowa, while pursuing a business administration with accounting degree from Drake University in Des Moines. He then began working for Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co. as an accountant, continuing his education and earning his CPA in 1963. Dick had a genuine passion for financial responsibility, administration, and serving people. After working a short time with the Auditor of State staff as Director of Audits in 1968, Dick was appointed as Director of Finance with the Iowa Highway Commission. In 1975, when it was reorganized as the Department of Transportation, he served as Director of the Administration Division and Director of the Motor Vehicle Division. In 1979, following the death of Lloyd Smith, Dick was appointed by Governor Robert Ray to serve as State Auditor until the next general election. After winning his initial election and multiple re-elections, he loyally served the citizens of Iowa as the state’s financial “Watchdog” until his retirement in 2002. He fully enjoyed meeting and greeting people on the campaign trail, but he was most proud of being able to use his elected influence and authority to increase the number of CPAs and the overall level of excellence in the Auditor’s office. In that capacity and as a member of NASACT (National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers), NSAA (National State Auditors Association), ASB (Auditing Standards Board), FAF (Financial Accounting Foundation), and other financial boards, he also had many opportunities to work with other states and countries needing assistance with financial restructuring and stability. Following his official retirement from state government, Dick continued to share his expertise with the financial boards of local companies, including Vision Bank of Iowa, PMMIC, and Lincolnway Energy.
Throughout the years, Dick was also involved in leadership positions for the military, as well as local government, business, church and community. Colonel Johnson was a member of the Nebraska and Iowa National Guard from 1955-1990, with positions of armor officer, artillery unit and battalion commander, state finance disbursing officer, and state director of selective service. After retirement from the guard, he participated in the local American Legion chapter. Dick served as City Clerk and Mayor for the town of Sheldahl from 1959-1975. He served as Treasurer and held other board positions for his church, the Madrid Evangelical Free Church. He was a highly active member of Rotary Club, thoroughly enjoying participating in exchange programs abroad and hosting visitors from other countries both in his office and home. He was also a farm owner and member of the Boone County Farm Bureau.
In 1956, Dick married Marjorie Sire of Butte, Nebraska. Between 1961 and 1968, Dick and Marjorie went on to have four children- DeAnn, JoAnn, LeAnn, and David. Home and family life were a high priority for him. He made every effort to support his children and grandchildren by attending their music and athletic activities, but also involved them in his interests as well. He loved building things and making continual changes on his home and landscaping. Fence posts and bricks were a favorite and seemed to be in constant movement around his yard. Whether with cars or home projects, he enjoyed the challenge of fixing and improving things. With family and close friends, Dick enjoyed playing card games and putting together jigsaw puzzles. He also liked to cook and bake, and while talking to family, referred to himself as a “gourmet chef.” In retirement, he baked many chocolate chip cookies, which he distributed to his family, friends, and church family.
While dating Marjorie, Dick made the most important decision of his life in August of 1955, asking Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord of his life. It was that decision that influenced his goals and decision-making for the rest of his life. Dick was a man of integrity and prayer. He sought God’s wisdom daily and followed God’s leading and direction in all facets of his life.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Clarice Johnson; sisters, Glennis Zarek and Dorothy Steinhauser; brother, Leonard Johnson; and grandsons, Andrew Thompson and Joshua Cole. He is survived by his wife, Marjorie; sisters, Lucille Bowman and Lila Leatherwood; children, DeAnn (Brian) Thompson, JoAnn (Stephen) Leach, LeAnn (Kevin) Houlette, and David (Mary) Johnson; grandchildren, Kerrie (Greg) Knudsen, Kristin (Jacob) Griffin, Kacie Thompson (fiancé Brandon Loverude), Bethany (Cory) Ogle, Melanie (Erick) Vespestad, Kirk Leach, Ann (Grant) Wheeler, Renee Houlette, Stephanie Houlette, Jeremy (Ying Xu) Cole and Christine Sims; thirteen great-grandchildren; and many other relatives and friends.
Memorial gifts may be given to Madrid Evangelical Free Church, Hidden Acres Christian Center, Rotary Club of Des Moines Foundation, or The Family Leader.