Francis J. Johnson, age 70 of River Falls, died suddenly February 27, 2018 doing what he loved most, riding his bike. To the University and River Falls communities, Fran truly was known as a friendly icon, touching many people’s lives, and bringing a greater sense of community to the town.
Francis Joseph Johnson was born August 12, 1947 in River Falls to Richard and Elizabeth (Huppert) Johnson. He graduated from River Falls High School, the Class of 1965. He furthered his education at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture. After college, Fran followed his love of farming, and worked at several local farms. After his father’s death, Fran ran the family farm, along with the help of his mother. After the death of his mother, the family farm was sold. Fran began his working career as a delivery driver and product receiver with Chartwells at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls Dining Service, where he worked for 16 years. He especially enjoyed his work family, and always brought many smiles, good humor, and laughter to his co-workers. He often told the funniest stories, whether they were true or not, only Fran knew.
Fran also brought much joy to his family, and treasured his time with them. He enjoyed the many trips and adventures with his brother, Peter going to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. He also looked forward to his time in Stevens Point visiting with his sister, Mary and family. He loved checking out the many bike trails and riding there.
Fran’s favorite pass time was riding his new Trek bike, which was a special gift from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, Francis Bike Project. Living in the community, you were sure to see Fran around town wearing his blaze orange sweatshirt biking around town for hours. He delighted in stopping for a brew at Mel’s Midtowner, Bo’s N Mine, and Emma’s Bar, or a coffee at Holiday Station or Perkins. Of course these visits, were times of great conversation and good humor for the friends he made along the way.
Francis will be sadly missed by his sister, Mary (Bill) Boston of Plover, WI; brother, Peter (Jackie) Johnson of Red Wing, MN; brother-in-law, Chester Huppert of Ellsworth; his numerous nieces and nephews; and his many, many dear University and community friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Jeanine Huppert and Betty Johnson; brother, James Johnson; and brother-in-law, Vernon Johnson.
Honoring Francis’ Life, a Prayer Service will take place 3:30 PM Saturday, March 3, 2018 at the O’Connell-Benedict Family Funeral Home, 225 South 3rd Street, River Falls, with Fr. Jerry Harris officiating. A Visitation will follow from 4:00 – 7:00 PM Saturday at O’Connell-Benedict Funeral Home. Private interment will take place at a later date at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Big River.
In Fran’s memory, memorials can be made to the Francis Johnson Memorial Fund at First National Bank in River Falls, to continue touching other people’s lives with the Francis Bike Project.