In Memory of




Obituary for Barbara Jean Johnson

Barbara Jean (Gibson) Johnson, 75, of Staples, passed peacefully at the Staples Lakewood Hospital on Sunday, November 8, 2020, after a brave, heroic battle with COVID-19. Barbara (Grandma Pixie) was surrounded by her children the morning of her passing. A morning full of love, stories, music, and phone calls with her grandchildren.

Barbara was born August 5, 1945 in St. John's, Newfoundland. Her family emigrated to St. Cloud, Minnesota where she graduated from Tech HS in 1964. Along with Larry Johnson of Red Wing, Minnesota, she raised three children. Barbara held two degrees, including an MBA from Southwest State University. She was a gifted leader and teacher who spent a long career in human services as a passionate advocate of the disadvantaged and marginalized. She inspired loyalty, love, and excellence in those who worked with her.

Barbara (Grandma Pixie) loved travel, photography, music, dancing, and reading. She was an artist, musician, and home decorator with an impeccable sense of style and taste. She valued family and friendships above all else and had a smile and spirit that was contagious. Barbara was the center of a large circle of lasting friendships and the adored, admired leader of a large family. A kind, gentle giant at 4'10'' (she rounded up), Barbara was many things to many people. To us - her family, she was a hero, idol, role model, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, teacher, and friend. She is responsible for the best in each of us. Though her death was tragic and preventable, she leaves us with a lasting legacy of love, kindness, and compassion.

Due to the current pandemic, a celebration to honor Barbara's life will take place in the months to come. According to her wishes, her family will return her ashes to her family home in Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland.

Barbara is survived by her children - Wayne (Mary) Johnson of Red Wing, Kimberly (Kirk) Voge of Bertha, and Aaron (Jerrielynn) Johnson of Sartell; her long-time partner - John Gans of Staples; and brother - Bart (Kathy) Gibson of South Haven. Barbara is also survived by 14 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and friends too numerous to count.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred.