He was a great friend throughout high school and we tried to keep in contact as much as possible as the years went by.
The last time I spoke with Bill was around 5 years ago when he and his brother Steve were back in Manning...we sat along Main Street and gabbed for an hour or more.
One thing Bill always teased me about, whenever I saw him, was that someday I would plow up Main Street and plant corn...he was thinking that someday this little town would fade away.

I teased him when we were visiting on Main Street that day that Manning is still here and going strong...something he realized as he and Steve drove up from Omaha and took the "scenic" route to Manning, driving through the little towns and they were amazed at how they had deteriorated, but how amazing the great shape Manning is in.
I visited often with Dale & Mary Johnson after their sons graduated and moved away. They both died too young 52 and 55 - only a year apart.

We often teased Bill about his height and being so skinny, which gave him the nickname of "Twiggy." We also kidded him that he had to run around in the school shower just to get wet because he was so skinny at 6 feet 7 inches and 140 pounds.

One thing about Bill is he would take the teasing but boy could he also dish it out - all in good fun of course...he had this amazing deep chuckle when he laughed!

We did lots of stupid and silly pranks in school and the one thing I'm going to "tell on Bill" was when he and another classmate stuffed as many of the library chairs in the little study room as possible, and when they closed the door, the chairs fell back against it...I'm sure the janitors did not see the humor in this - I don't think they ever discovered who did this prank. One thing we never did was to do destructive pranks...just the normal stupid things that high school kids do.

If you have any "fun" memories about and/or you had with Bill and would like to tell us - please send them in an e-mail...I'll decide if they are appropriate for public viewing - we want to "celebrate" Bill's life.

1974 MHS graduates: Jon Sidney Ahrendsen, Daniel L. Arp, Beverly Jean Baker, Randy Dean Baker, Christine Kay Beck, Joseph Walter Blum, David John Croghan, Colleen Jane Dammann, Diana Lynn Doyel, Barbara Ann Drees, Jeffrey James Drees, Christine Marie Edmunds, Dean William Fara, Gwen Marlyn Fielweber, Nancy Kay Fogleman, Michael E. Foley, Jean Patricia Garner, Michael John Gawley, Dwight Thomas Gore, Gary Craig Graner, Douglas Dean Hansen, Kimala Ann Haubrich, Martha Ann Heinicke (salutatorian), Mary Ruth Heinicke, Barbara Kay Hudson, Linda Louise Hughes, Randy Wayne Jahn, William A. Johnson, James Walter Karsten, Jeffrey Lynn Karsten, Jan Lee Kasperbauer, Jerilyn Joy Kusel, Rick Paul Lohrmann, Randy L. Mahnke, Dean Joseph Moeller, Larry L. Mundt, Randy Alvin Musfeldt, Stanley Alan Musfeldt, David Jon Nelson, Debra Kay Opperman (valedictorian), Dale Dean Reinke, Paul James Renze, Randall Joseph Renze, MaryJane Bernice Rohe, Dale N. Rohe, Susan Elizabeth Rutz, Peggy Ann Sibbel, Dale Kevin Sieve, Keith Dale Stribe, Becky Sue Tank, Karen Ann Tank, Connie Sue Weems, Bob Larry Weiskircher, Daniel Lee Williams, Jessica Marie Zerwas, Steven R. Zinke

1974 former students: Paula Andreasen, William Baley, Sheila Bauer, Glenda Baugh, Darwin Betterton, Craig Brady, Donna Dentlinger, Pam Drees, Darwin Farrell, Nylene Freese, Keith Frisinger, Bev Geerdes, Duane Gehling, Sally Grimm, Cindy Halbur, Jacqueline Hansen, Paul Hartman, Darrell Hinners, Robert Hinz, Debra Hodne, Michael Irlmeier, Laurie Jahn, John Karbula, Jane Kunkel, Carol McCammond, Daniel Moore, Daniel Nelson, Louie Schwiesow, Earl Shoemaker, Marilyn Taggart, James Thompson, Jerry Voge, Terry Voge, Debra Wassom, Diane Zentmire, Mark Zerwas, Steve Zerwas

William A. Johnson
October 4, 1956 - March 17, 2022

"Tall & Short" of MHS 1974

Bill "Twiggy" Johnson & Kevin "Chipper" Wanninger standing in the doorway to the school library


Bill Johnson interviewing US Congressman William Scherle of Iowa at MHS 1974

Algren Family Funeral Home


WilliamA. Johnson

A Celebration of Life for William "Bill" Anthony Johnson will be held at a future date to be determined.

Bill was born on October 4, 1956, in Webster, South Dakota, and died on March 17, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois. He was surrounded by his beloved family and was able to say goodbye to his loved ones who couldn't be there, using modern technology.

He was the cherished husband of Gretchen B. Johnson (nee Beckman); loving father of Kimberly Johnson Hogate (Todd Hogate) and Michael Beckman Johnson (Emily Koury); loving Baba of Annaleia Hogate and Elaine Johnson; dear son of the late Dale and Mary (nee Prunty) Johnson; loving brother of Bob, Steve (Rose), and Tom Johnson; loving uncle to Daniel, Elizabeth, Alex, Kyle, David, Natalie, Corey, Robert, and Lindsay; great-uncle to Trenton, Haileigh, and Chyanne; cherished brother-in-law to Rose Johnson, Lisa Beckman, Bert (Diana Mees) Beckman, Bill Beckman, and Pam Beckman.

The family moved to Manning, Iowa, in 1968, where Bill graduated with the MHS class of 1974. Bill graduated from the University of Iowa in 1978 with a degree in journalism. While at Iowa, he was the university editor of the Daily Iowan. He won several awards during that time, including, the Brewer key for journalistic excellence. His first job out of college was writing manuals for computer programs. He later completed his Master's Degree in Business Administration at Duke University. He worked full time and went to classes in the evening, completing the program in two years. He had several different positions in the computer industry ending up working in Business Intelligence at Motorola.

Bill also loved science fiction and won a Hugo Award in 1998 for his novella, "We Will Drink a Fish Together." His stories were published in "The Year's Best Science Fiction" several times. His good friend Gay Haldeman helped guide him through the writing business.

Most of all, he loved his family. He was happiest being Baba to Elaine and Annaleia. He never missed a day telling us how much he loved us. He is sorely missed.

He had many trials related to a genetic disorder, Marfan Syndrome. He also told us that he didn't want to have his life prolonged with machines. And he put this in many of his stories. He was also a very giving person and had checked the donate organs box on his driver's license.

He was a very funny person and self-deprecating. He was very tall and would leave messages in the dust on the top of his friend's refrigerators. Everywhere we went, people would ask him, "How tall are you?" Sometimes he'd say, "Don't worry-you'll get your full growth one day."

Writings by Bill Johnson


Robert Johnson MHS 1977


Steven Johnson MHS 1980


Tom Johnson MHS 1982


Dale Johnson

Sergeant Dale W. Johnson of Summit has returned to Seattle, Washington where he will be discharged from the army sometime in October of 1953.

Sergeant Dale Johnson Returning from Korea August 27, 1953 With the 40th Infantry Division in Korea, Sgt. Dale W. Johnson, son of Mrs. Lena Johnson of Summit, is returned to the U.S. after serving with the 40th infantry division in Korea. Sergeant Johnson, a member of the 980th field artillery batallion's battery C, joined the division in July 1952, and earned the commendation ribbon, Korean and UN service ribbons. Before entering the army he was employed by the Milwaukee railroad.


Mike Lamp's birthday party in the city park.
Tom Johnson in the checkered shirt facing the camera.


Dean Moeller giving Bill a haircut???
1974 yearbook

Bill was never bashful about anything

Boys' State 1973-74

William Johnson, Michael Gawley, Larry Mundt, Jon Ahrendsen, Randy Renze, Paul Renze
Mike Gawley, Larry Mundt, Jon Ahrendsen and Randy Renze were the delegates to Boys' state.
Bill Johnson and Paul Renze were the alternates.
Standing on the north side of the old high school along 141.

From the 1973-74 yearbook
Did You Know?
Jan Karsten cries at scary movies?
Dave Kusel hit his head on the basketball rim while jumping?
William Johnson has turned into a Playboy?
There was a battle of the bands at the Starline on Sunday night, but nobody told the bands?
Kent Wiese likes to have Keith Stribe rub his feet?


Cast Selected for "Oliver" Musical
Stage Presentation November 16, 17, 1973

Bumble-David Crandall
Corny-Amy Brotherton
Mr. Brownloe-Mark Stangl
Mrs. Sowerberry-Jerilyn Kusel
Mr. Sowerberry-Doug Hansen
Charlotte-Peg Dentlinger
Noah-Gary Drees
Dr. Grimwig-Bill Johnson
Mrs. Bedwin-Maureen Williams
Old Sally-Jessica Zerwas
Practices are every Tuesday and Wednesday from 6:30 to 9:30 in the Auditorium. The auditorium will benefit the actors with more stage room and new lighting that give special effects. It will also benefit the audience with better seating facilities.
The setting is in London, England around the 1880s. The performances are November 16th and 17th at 7:30.
This year the Manning High School Musical Theatre is presenting the musical "Oliver." "Oliver" was chosen because the directors wanted "a good production for the new auditorium and it contains a large cast." There are 83 parts: 16 which contain Jr. High students.
Mr. J. Miller is the theatre director and Mr. Linder is the music director. Chris Beck is the stage manager and Deb Opperman and Sue Rutz are the accompanists. The most difficult aspect of the production is for the actors to learn the cockney or the London dialect. Jean Garner, the A.F.S. student from England will help the actors with this.

There are many new people in the main roles. The 6 major roles are:
Oliver-Tom Lee
Fagin-Dean Moeller
Dodger-Mark Jensen
Sikes-Lynn Mork
Nancy-Becky Tank
Bet-Kim Sailor
"Oliver" Production Progresses
Committees for various phases of the "Oliver" production, such as props, lighting, costumes, and advertising, have been established. Gwen Fielweber heads the committee for props, while the lighting is tackled by Dean Fara. The costumes are handled by Jessica Zerwas and Lynn Mark, and the advertising is left up to Maureen Williams. Gwen's department has been looking for, old clothing and would appreciate any clothing that readers would like to donate.
Originally, the cast had been taking cockney lessons from Jean Garner, but as of now it's "every man for himself."
One group of the cast has started working on a dance routine to go with a song. It's a bit confusing for some, and a few are born dancers, but just about everyone is improving.
Most of the scenes in the musical have been run through, and some quite a few times.
And of course everyone's trying to get their lines memorized down pat.
The play has been scheduled for November 16th and 17th with a matinee for the school on the 15th.
November 8, 1973 Behind the Scenes of "Oliver"
Students Manage Production
The musical being held this year, or for that matter, any year, has meant a lot of work for many people. Not only the actors but also the people behind the scenes really make any musical a success.
Of course, everything falls under the supervision of Mr. Linder and Mr. James Miller. Directly under Mr. Linder and Mr. Miller are the stage manager (Chris Beck) and the house manager (Doug Hansen). These two people are in charge of additional committees. It may seem confusing, but they are managing to work everything out smoothly.
Under stage manager Chris Beck are the props committee, the costumes committee, the lighting crew, and the make-up committee. Each has its own chairman.
The props committee is overseen by Gwen Fielweber. This committee is busy applying a little paint here and there and, generally, making the scenes more lifelike and colorful. Several props necessary for "Oliver" have been obtained through students and friends in the community. The most unusual prop called for in the play is --of all things-- a coffin!
"Oliver" requires many costumes as Jess Zerwas, Lynn Mork and Miss Mileham, the home economics teacher, have found out. The Home Ec room is bustling these days with students modeling their "fashionable" apparel and sewing machines zipping together little white caps and black skirts for the girls. Again much of the costumes are left up to the ingenuity of the wearer. But final approval must be given by Mr. Miller and Miss Mileham.
Lighting crew, headed by Dean Fara, operates the stage lights during rehearsals (after all, an actor should be able to see what's going on!) The majority of their time, however, is spent in learning how to operate the new lighting equipment; setting lights and cutting color gels for the lights.
The make-up committee, supervised by Connie Weems, makes its debut at the dress rehearsal and performances. Prior to the time in which they perfect an actor face, their main job is to see the supplies of makeup are plentiful, particularly since this play has such a large cast. It would be terrible if they ran out of face cream and had to "improvise."
The house manager (Doug Hansen) is considered very important. He is in charge of the tickets committee, headed by Karen Tank; the advertisement committee, handled by Maureen Williams; and the programs committee, supervised by Carol Musfeldt. Little is needed to explain these committees for they do exactly what their titles say. Ticket sales are set up by the tickets committee. Posters and ads proclaiming the coming of "Oliver" are overseen by Maureen Williams and helpers. Carol Struve is in charge of putting together the programs. Happiness is all these crews working together to make "Oliver" a success.


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