Merlynn John Johnson

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Merlynn John Johnson, 69, passed away on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, at University of Iowa Hospitals, from complications after open heart surgery. 

Merlynn was born on Nov. 23, 1949, in Richmond Center, to the late Ronald and Wihelmina (Grabanski) Johnson. He grew up in the small town of Mt. Sterling, with two older sisters, Marlene and Bonnie, and a younger sister, Karen, where his father, Ronald owned a cheese factory. He graduated from Gays Mills High School and later received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Wisconsin University at La Crosse. 

He married Connie on Sept. 5, 1980. Their daughter, Tara Ann, was born on Sept. 14, 1981. Shortly after, Merlynn, Connie, her 4-year-old daughter, Kelly, and Tara Ann moved to Florida. After several years in Florida, they moved back to La Xrosse. They divorced and he moved to Prairie du Chien, near his sister Bonnie and Denny’s three children, Kelly, Michelle, and Barron, along with being beside Tara, and taking her to many family events. 

Merlynn met the love of his life, Susan (Comer) Karpan in November 1991. They became a couple within a few months and were together until they married on Nov. 27, 2002, at Peace United Church of Christ in Elkader. Susan brought with her three daughters, Nicole, Natalie and Amber. The family grew, with Susan’s six grandchildren, and Grandpa Mer became a big part of their lives. 

Merlynn retired on Jan. 1, 2013. He enjoyed watching the Green Bay Packers and other sporting events with family and close friends in Elkader and Prairie du Chien. He loved fishing, building and remodeling. He spent many hours turning his yard into Susan’s and his favorite place to relax and enjoy nature and bird-watching. In the past four years, Merlynn and Susan have spent their winters staying with their dear friend, Dianne Coyne, as well as enjoying time with her children and grandchildren. Merlynn will be remembered for his quick wit, his love of people, his wonderful laugh and being a jokester. 

He touched the hearts of so many. Merlynn will be greatly missed by his wife, Susan; daughter, Tara Ann and her sister Kelly; sisters, Marlene Maas and Bonnie (Dennis) Fuller; sister-in-law, Sally (Comer) Brown; brother-in-law Bruce Bowles; step-daughters, Nikki (Mark) Jacobs, Natalie (Bryan) Hintz, Amber Becker; six step-grandchildren; Daynan, Haley, Alexis, Chloe, Sam and Sophia; many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. 

Merlynn was preceded in death by his parents, Ronald and Wilhelmina; sister, Karen (Johnson) Bowles; brother-in-law, Jon Mass; sister-in-law, Nancy (Comer) Vogelsmeier; and mother-in-law, Vera (Cornelison Comer) Mullins. 

A memorial fund has been established. The funeral service was Saturday, Dec. 22, at Peace United Church of Christ in Elkader. Rev. Jon Haack officiated. Interment was held at St. Patrick Catholic Cemetery, in Seneca, Dec. 22.

Leonard-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service is assisting the family. Online condolences may be left at

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