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Alton “Al” David Johnson was born on October 3, 1938, in Edgeley, ND, to parents, Claire and Katherine (Fox) Johnson. Al died at home on August 17, 2023, surrounded by his loving family. Al was one of six children and he spent his younger years growing up on a farm in rural Oakes, ND, learning all about the things needed to help on the family farm. He attended a rural country school, James River Valley #3, through the 8th grade and later on, received his GED in Fort Lee, VA.
At 17, Al joined the United States Army Reserve located in Lamoure, ND. In October of 1958, Al completed his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. The balance of his active duty was spent at Fort Lee, VA. Upon returning home, Al did various jobs in LaMoure, ND, and at age 21, he assumed the ownership of Texaco Service Station in LaMoure, which he operated for three years.
After breaking his ankle in a sledding accident, he decided to quit the service station and go into selling life and health insurance for one year. He realized that the insurance business was not for him and took a job bar tending at the Fargo Biltmore Motor Hotel. While working at the Fargo Biltmore, Al met the owner of Cass County Implement and he convinced Al to come to work for him selling farm machinery. After one year, that business was sold to Massey Ferguson and being unsure of his future, Al went to Wahpeton, ND, and worked for Loberg Ford selling cars and machinery for five years.
When Al moved to Wahpeton, he married Alice Hehn and they had two boys, Michael and Brian. The family lived in Breckenridge, MN. On April 1, 1970, Al started working in the floor covering business. During his time working in the floor covering retail business, Al met Earllet DeFries and in 1975, they bought Carpet Warehouse Outlet in Wahpeton, ND, together. Al and Earllet were married on February 1, 1975 and they lived in Breckenridge together until they moved to Eagle Lake in Battle Lake, MN, in 1988. When Al married Earllet, he gained two more sons, Rick and Mick DeFries. Rick worked with Al and Earllet at Carpet Warehouse Outlet and they eventually renamed it Three Rivers Decorating. In 1989, Al and Earllet sold Three Rivers Decorating to Rick and his wife, Carolyn.
In February of 1990, Al and Earllet bought a building in Battle Lake, MN, and started their own floor covering business, EJ’s Floor Covering, and they owned and operated that together until October, 2022.
Al’s family will not only remember him as being a kind-hearted, caring man, but they will also remember him as being a kid at heart, whether he was participating in playing games at the lake, stopping for ice cream anywhere he could get it, opening gifts at Christmas, riding on his lawn mower or always being the last one up when entertaining family and friends. His quick wit and sense of humor always made him well loved and respected by all who met him. Al loved spending time fishing, hunting and just enjoying the outdoors with his family and friends. He was also known as being quite the “Fred Astaire” on the dance floor, as he and Earllet would own the floor with their own style when they danced together. Now they are together again, dancing in Heaven.
Al was preceded in death by his wife, Earllet Johnson, his parents, Claire and Katherine Johnson, his son, Mick DeFries, his sisters, Loretta Fuller and Nina Moore.
Al is survived by his children: Mike (Lisa) Johnson of Battle Lake, MN; Brian (Missy) Johnson of Breckenridge, MN; and Rick (Carolyn) DeFries of Breckenridge, MN; nine grandchildren; 12 great–grandchildren; brother, Ray Johnson of Fargo, ND; sisters, Angie Brown of Oakes, ND; and Mary (Kent) Ladd of Ottertail, MN/Leesburg, FL; many other relatives, a host of friends and his special dog, Jasper.