Esther Johnson

Esther Johnson, 94, long-time resident of Conrad, died peacefully in her sleep during the early-morning hours of May 22. While in the excellent care of the Pondera Medical Center Extended-Care Facility, she had recently developed a variety of medical complications which led to her passing.

A memorial service celebrating Esther’s life will be held on May 30 at 10 a.m. at the Pondera Valley Lutheran Church in Conrad. Interment will follow the service at the Hillside Cemetery. A reception is planned afterward for the social hall at the church. Monetary gifts in her memory may be given to one’s Christian church or charity of choice. 

Esther, affectionately known to all of us as “Essie”, was born in Conrad on Nov. 7, 1919. The third in the line of four siblings, she was the youngest daughter of her Norwegian father, Thomas, and Swedish mother, Ellen (Olson) Johnson, Sr. She grew up on the family homestead and sheep ranch near Ledger. Her elementary education consisted of country school there in Ledger, after which she attended high school in Conrad, graduating in 1937. Following secondary education, she then attended business college in Great Falls.

Skilled in numerous professional endeavors, Esther held many prestigious positions, ranging from secretarial work in agriculture (Great Falls), to chief receptionist in the Oncology Department at UCLA (Los Angeles), and as a travel specialist in Kalispell. Most significantly, she was a previous director of Conrad’s Extended Care. Highly thought-of and respected, she served admirably in that position during the late 70s and early 80s. She would often joke that “the only arena requiring more paperwork than that of nursing-home care is the nuclear-weapons program!”

Esther was a devout Christian who loved her Scandinavian roots and the Lutheran Church. She contributed a number of years as the secretary of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Great Falls and participated in many church organizations and activities during the course of her life. She was also an avid bridge player. She so enjoyed social networking and gathering. Her infectious personality would light up a room, and she radiated matchless gentleness and kindness. Esther would readily reach out to those in need, be they family, friend, or stranger. Her family was most dear to her. She regaled the past, sharing many memories with family and friends. Essie will be immensely missed in this life in her roles as loving sister, aunt, great-aunt, friend, and colleague, but she is cheered on as she now enters the Church Triumphant with her God in the life eternal.

Together with other dear family and friends, Esther is preceded in death by her loving parents, Tom and Ellen, and by her older sisters Hazel and Annabelle. She is survived by her adored brother, Tom, and by many nephews, nieces, grand-nephews and nieces.