MALTA — Robert Levi Johnson, 89, Malta passed away Dec. 31, 2021 at the DeKalb County Nursing and Rehab Center in DeKalb. He was born on July 11, 1932 on the home farm near Esmond to Levi and Anna (Askeland) Johnson. He was a man of faith, a devoted husband and father and an active member of his community.
Bob grew up in the Esmond farming community where he developed a passion for agriculture. He met his wife, Ann Rader, while attending Rochelle Township High School, which he graduated from in 1950. Bob and Ann were married on May 4, 1952 at the Kings Presbyterian Church. They celebrated a union of 66 years until the passing of Ann in 2018.
While in high school, Bob was an excellent athlete and an accomplished member of the football team. He was also a valued student in the Rochelle FFA program. In 1948, he, with his three teammates, won the National FFA Livestock (All Species) Judging Competition in Kansas City. This accomplishment is still recognized as a National feat for the FFA members across the United States. He was also an active member of the Esmond Eagles 4-H Club.
He developed a love for the cattle industry and bought his first Angus heifer from Woodlawn Angus Farm in 1945 and has been a lifetime member of the American Angus Association. He has been a member and served on the board of the Northern Illinois Angus Association. In the early 1980s, Bob introduced a new and upcoming breed to his program, Simmental cattle. He was also a member of the American Simmental Association.
A perfect day for Bob was the opportunity to attend a cattle show. He loved to travel to national stock shows, state or county fairs. The Chicago International, Fort Worth, American Royal, Denver National Western, North American in Louisville and World Beef Expo were all events he had the opportunity to attend. However, his favorite events were watching his grandchildren show their calves at the local 4-H and county fairs. He loved his cows and his favorite sight was looking out and seeing a newborn calf out in the pasture.
Bob was a hardworking man. Following high school, he not only farmed, but also worked for the DeKalb Ag. He later worked many years with Del Monte Foods, where he created a number of friendships.
His community was important to him. He served on the Esmond School board and was an active member of the Esmond Men’s Club and Bowling League.
He was a man of God and his faith was important to him. He had been an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Creston where he was baptized and served on the board for many years. Several years ago, he became a member of Calvary Lutheran Church in Lee where he enjoyed worshiping. Bob instilled his virtue for faith in his three children, no greater a legacy a father could leave.
Bob loved his family and enjoyed traveling to visit those that lived in Kansas and Hawaii.
Bob was an avid gardener and a founding member of the Prairie Rose Society. He became a rosarian and spoke at a number of lectures. At one time, he had over 400 rose plants on his farm, which he named RosePoint.
Bob is survived by his daughter, Cindy Brown, of Lindenwood; two sons: Daniel (Sheryl) Johnson, of Wichita, Kansas and David (Molly) Johnson, of Esmond. He was blessed with eight grandchildren: Joshua Brown, Katie (Adam) Zimmerman, Nathan (Kelly) Johnson, Shelby (Paul) Casper, Victoria, Logan (Jalen), Levi and Sara Johnson and six great-grandchildren: Maddox, Parker, Samuel, Hannah, Layton and Lucy. He is also survived by his sister, Arlene Skaar, of Kings; a nephew, three nieces and several great-nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents and wife, Bob was preceded in death by his brother, Harold Johnson, brother-in-law, Robert Skaar, sister-in-law, Louise Bolick and brother-in-law, Jack Bolick.
Visitation will be held at Unger-Horner Funeral Home, 400 N. 6th St., Rochelle from 4-7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 13. A celebration of Bob’s life will be held at Calvary Lutheran Church, 19 Perry Rd., in Lee on Friday, Jan, 14 with a viewing at 10 a.m. and the service beginning at 11 a.m. with Pastor Martha Nelson officiating. Burial will follow the service at Woodlawn Cemetery in Creston. Memorials may be made in Bob’s memory to Calvary Lutheran Church or Rochelle FFA. Visit www.ungerhorner.com to sign the online guest book.