Phyllis Virginia Johnson, Bismarck, passed away peacefully Dec. 3, 2017, surrounded by her family. Mass of Christian burial and holy communion will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at Lutheran Church of the Cross, Bismarck, with The Rev. Lisa Ahlness officiating.
Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the church until the time of the service.
Phyllis was born July 27, 1928, to Lawrence Albert and Lorain O. Anderson at Swedish Hospital, Minneapolis. She was the second child with an older brother, Lawrence Jr., born exactly one year earlier on the same day at the same hour. Her neighborhood in northeast Minneapolis gave life-long friendships, Swedish-born grandparents Mostor and Morbro, aunts and uncles, and the closely-knit Parish of Concordia Lutheran, all within walking distance. She attended Whitney and Pillsbury Grade Schools, began the study of piano at age five, and was an accomplished yet modest pianist throughout her life.
She graduated from Edison High School in 1946, where she honed her skills as an expert at shorthand. She attended the Minneapolis Secretarial College, after which she began a career as a legal secretary working for the Dorsey Law Firm in downtown Minneapolis (after having been refused earlier applications at law firms due to her being left-handed). She met her first husband, the late Dale Henry Jensen, when they were children while he was visiting North Dakota relatives in Minneapolis. It was by chance that they met again as young adults when he knocked at the door looking for her brother. A long-distance romance began with him at UND Law School and her working in Minneapolis. They were married in September 1954, spending their first year as husband and wife in a wintry Grand Forks for the last year of his law studies. They later settled in Bismarck, where they raised their five children. As a family, they spent many happy summers at their cabin on Blue Lake. Dale passed away in 1974. Phyllis’ strong faith gave her comfort as she continued to raise her children. In 1977, her friend Sen. Shirley Lee suggested to a widowed Edgar V. Johnson that he might escort Phyllis to a Republican luncheon which she was organizing. They were married in October 1978, finding a path together with a blended family. She was widowed again in 1987, when Edgar died suddenly. Ed’s family and friends provided great support for her, remembering the blessing of their short time together. She loved seeing and hearing from Ed’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren throughout the years following.
Phyllis’ interests led her to work for the N.D. State Legislature during numerous bi-annual sessions, and she regularly served as an election judge in her neighborhood. Phyllis was a proud and active mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother (still sledding down BSC Hill into her 70s!).
She was a proud supporter of her church, choir, Martha's Circle, the Sons of Norway (Sverdrup Lodge), ND Republican Woman, and PEO – Chapter N.
She will be missed and the memories of her thoughtfulness will be treasured by her children, Scott Jensen (Bonnie), Susan Weekes (John), Laurie Spilde (Jonathan), Sara Fritz (Chuck), Kent Jensen; grandchildren, Lyndsey Tungseth (Jake), Kaiya Johnson (Devon), Clinton Jensen, Amy Jensen (Josh), Savannah Fritz, India Fritz, Coleman Spilde; and great-grandchildren, Cally, Kambri, and Gabriel; her stepchildren, Rick Johnson (Virginia), the Rev. Dan Johnson (Cathy), Linnea Johnson and their extended families; as well as sister-in-law, Valerie Anderson; niece, Teri Wysopal and family; cousin, Donna Smith; and many friends and neighbors.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Church of the Cross (Building Fund), Salvation Army.
Go to www.eastgatefuneral.com to share memories of Phyllis and sign the online guest book. (Eastgate Funeral Service, Bismarck)