Donald A. Johannsen was born on Nov. 13, 1934, and passed away peacefully on the morning of Aug. 31, 2021. A private Memorial Service will be held in California and his ashes will be returned to Montana at a later date.
Recently, Donald had coped with Alzheimer’s and Dementia during his last years. He was the cherished son of Mamie and Andrew Johannsen and lived on and operated the Johannsen family grain ranch north of Shelby, Mont. He endured a childhood fight with Polio that never slowed him down. He became a member of the Shelby Community United Methodist Church in 1949 and served as Lay Leader, Chair of Finance Special Offering Committee and a member of Pastor/Parish Relations, as well as singing in the church choir for 33 years.
He graduated from Shelby High School in the class of 1953. Soon after, he married Rosemary Holtz and attended Rocky Mountain College. He became the Director of the Farmers Union Co-operative Retail Center in Devon, Mont. and then President of the Shelby Chapter of the Montana Flying Farmers. He also served as Publicity Director and then Montana State President of the National Farmers Organization. He represented the NFO before the Montana State Legislature. He was appointed to the Kellogg Extension Education Program (K.E.E.P) at Montana State University.
Donald owned and operated two travel agencies in Helena, Mont., for several years. He owned and operated NRTECH Inc., a solar and energy equipment sales corporation. Around 1979 he owned, developed, restored and managed The Olde Lodge apartment and office building, formerly The State Publishing and Masonic Temple in Helena, which was placed in the Montana Historic Register. He served as Past Master – Shelby Lodge #143 Masons, Past Patron – Shelby Chapter #113 Order of the Eastern Star (O.E.S.) and Past Grand Patron O.E.S. State of Montana.
He relocated to Los Angeles, Calif., in 1987. He attended the Sherman Oaks United Methodist Church and established New Directions Clinical Hypnotherapy Counseling. He worked as a project manager for Ajax Welding, as a Supervisor in Customer Service for Sprint Communications and as Audience Development Manager for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, in addition to serving on various church maintenance committees where he met and married his second wife, Martha Dale Bridges, in 1992.
Restoring the church’s property after the Northridge earthquake in 1994 was a huge project and Donald supervised or participated in 85 percent of the work. He slowed down after a massive cardiac arrest hit him in 2015, but he never stopped fixing things, pets, plants and people.
He is survived by his wife in California and four children: Donald M., Andrea L. Kraft, Laura K. and Dean; as well as grandchildren, Mike Kraft, Erin Arnold and Jered; great-granddaughters, Emma and Addison, all who continue to live in Montana.
His parents and an infant son, Michael, preceded him in death. He was always the best “problem fixer” you could find.