Betty Lou Johnson

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Betty Lou (Pust) Johnson went to join her Lord and close family members in heaven on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, at the Elkader Care Center.

Betty was born on July 31, 1930, in Littleport, Iowa, to Earl and Mabel (Klink) Pust. She was both baptized and confirmed at Hope Lutheran Church. She grew up in Littleport and attended all of her school years at Littleport schools. She greatly enjoyed the company of her aunts and uncles, as well as first cousins, who were important parts of her entire life as she was an only child. 

Her childhood included special memories of spending time at her dad’s business, E.C. Pust Hardware. She was proud of Littleport and returned often later in life, including her family hosting her 80th birthday in the park where her beloved town once stood before the flood. She donated an eagle statue that is on display there now. 

She attended Upper Iowa University, where she earned her teaching certificate, was crowned Homecoming Queen in 1948, and met her future husband, Paul Johnson. Betty and Paul were married June 1, 1950, at Hope Lutheran Church, and shortly afterward, Paul was called to serve in the Korean conflict. After his return, Paul and Betty made their home briefly in Strawberry Point, then Iowa City while Paul finished college, then Westchester, Ill., until they moved back to Elkader, in 1964 .Betty was an elementary school teacher. She taught at McGregor-Marquette, St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Elkader, and Garnavillo Elementary School. She returned to Upper Iowa later in life to complete her Bachelor of Arts in teaching, along with raising her five children and working full time. 

After Paul and Betty both retired from teaching, they moved to their beloved lake home on Lake Wissota outside Chippewa Falls, where they enjoyed entertaining friends and extended family as often as possible. If you ask any of her grandchildren, they will most likely say some of their most cherished childhood memories were times spent at the cabin with Grandma and Grandpa. Betty was a fantastic hostess, cook and baker. In her life, Betty generously hosted countless family and friends for holidays, important gatherings, parties and just because. She was incredibly fashionable, and for a time, worked at Seifert’s in Eau Claire, as a fashion consultant. She even was in a local fashion show. Betty prided herself on always looking her best. 

Later Paul and Betty moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, then settled in Prairie du Chien, for their last years together. Betty greatly enjoyed her part-time job as a greeter for Walmart where she often saw longtime friends and former students. She had a profound impact on her hundreds of students over her career. Many would still refer to her as Mrs. Johnson when they would see her at Walmart. Some of her favorite pastimes were going for boat rides and attending many music festivals in Milwaukee. She and Paul loved to dance. They were able to take many trips to Florida to visit family and two visits to Hawaii. For the past few years, Betty lived at the Elkader Care Center, first in assisted living and as dementia took hold, she moved into full nursing care.

Betty is survived by daughter, Paula (Lee) Embretson; sons, Mark (Becky Tesar) Johnson and Steve (Lynn) Johnson; son-in-law, Dennis Freitag; grandchildren, Jennifer (Matt) Grant, Juston (Casey) Johnson, Joshua (Stacey) Embretson, Tim (Dom) Embretson, Stephanie (Scott) Denner, Ann (TJ) Casper, Danielle (Hugo) Herrera, Chad (BJ Titus) Johnson, Chris (Tanya) Guillian, James Newbern and Amanda Newbern; and 18 great-grandchildren.

Betty was preceded in death by her parents, Earl and Mabel Pust; husband, Paul; daughter, Patricia Johnson Newbern; son-in-law, Kevin Newbern; daughter, Pamela Johnson Freitag; daughter-in-law, Regina Johnson; and a stillborn granddaughter, Elisha Embretson.

Betty will be held in loving memory by her entire family for many years to come. She considered her family her best friends and loved and cherished visits from them. She was generous, loving, caring, nurturing, and made everyone feel like the most important person to her, no matter how many people were in the room. Betty was proud of her family heritage link to Motor Mill and of receiving the Leopold Award for her contribution of the mill and farm to the State of Iowa for preservation. 

In lieu of flowers, family requests memorials be made to Hope Lutheran Church in Littleport, or the Motor Mill Foundation. Leonard-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Elkader is assisting the famly.

Visitation for Betty will be Saturday, Jan. 29, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church, Littleport. Funeral services will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at the church, with interment at East Side Cemetery, Elkader, Iowa.

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