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Robert "Bob" W. Johnson

March 12, 1931 ~ May 31, 2021 (age 90)

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Robert “Bob” W. Johnson of Sun Prairie, WI (formally of Wisconsin Rapids), aged 90, passed away peacefully at home in Sun Prairie, WI on Monday, May 31, 2021. Bob was born to William and Anna (Schirmacher) Johnson in Wisconsin Rapids on March 12, 1931. He grew up and attended local schools in Wisconsin Rapids, graduating in 1949 from Lincoln High School. While in high school he met the love of his life, Joan O Cotterill. They were married on August 4, 1951, in Merrill, WI by a justice of the peace and celebrated almost 70 years of partnership and life.

After graduating, Bob worked at Preway in Wisconsin Rapids building appliances. In 1953, Bob enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed in Colorado Springs, CO while serving at Fort Carson as a Sergeant. After service, Bob moved back to Wisconsin Rapids in 1955 to be with his bride for the birth of their first child. Back in Wisconsin Rapids, Bob then went to work for his father at his Rambler Nash dealership in Wisconsin Rapids.

From there, Bob opened his own Standard Oil gas station and repair shop next door to his father’s dealership. This self-owned business went through several variations over the years, first as Standard Oil, then SPUR and finally Sears, and at several locations in Wisconsin Rapids. Always putting honesty and loyalty to his customers first, he successfully operated Bob Johnson’s Car Care Center for over 40 years. His customers became family.

Bob helped create with Joan, Bobbi Jo’s Ceramics, a business that taught customers the joy of ceramics and painting. Eventually moving the business out of the basement and into a building that could accommodate more people and classes. Here he was the grunt and worker bee to mom’s creative and artistic abilities. Through the years, Bob was active in the American Legion, Lion’s Club of Wisconsin Rapids, School PTAs and various church boards.

In their retirement years, after years of cold winters starting stalled cars and pumping gas in the freezing cold, Mom and Dad enjoyed over 20 years of wintering in the Gulf Shores area in Florida. Their retirement also allowed them to give the gift of helping their daughter, Chris, with her kids and family while she bravely fought a rare breast cancer that eventually claimed her life at age 40. She was dad’s little girl and it crushed him when she passed.

After her passing, Mom and Dad begun volunteering in Chris’ Choose Hope Cancer business which started in her basement to honor her and help raise money for cancer research. Dad began another career, making “cancer sucks” buttons for sale, and eventually became known as “Button Bob”. Choose Hope eventually became a world-wide business that has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to cancer research nationwide.

Bob and Joan were blessed with three children, Jerold (Teri) Johnson of Wisconsin Rapids, Timothy (Deb) Johnson of Wausau and Christine (Mike) McHugh of DeForest. They were also blessed with many grandchildren and great grandchildren in their time together, a sign of a life well lived. Bob is survived by his children Jerold and Timothy; grandchildren, Angie (Van) Fitzsimmons, Daniel (Caela) Johnson of Madison, Jennifer (Phil) Layden of Ashwaubenon, Noah (Katie) Johnson of Milwaukee, Amy Johnson of Wisconsin Rapids, Scot (Michael Zywicki) Johnson of Madison, Patrick (Kyrsten) McHugh of Oshkosh, Brianna (Mike) Mathweg of DeForest; step grandchildren, Jeremy (Heidi) Roloff, Jenny (Jason) Shidell of Wausau; great grandchildren, Colin, Stella Layden, Carter Mathweg, Mica Fitzsimmons, Farris, Alma, Julian Johnson, Poppy, Jasper, Calvin Johnson; step grandchildren, Conrad, Waylon, Spencer, Liza Roloff Wausau; sister, Susan Wendt and sister-in-law Elaine Johnson of Wisconsin Rapids.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, William Robert (Spark) Johnson and daughter, Christine McHugh.

Due to COVID, no visitation or services are being held at this time. When appropriate, a family celebration of life will be held. Memorials may be sent in his name, to the UW Carbone Cancer Center, 600 Highland Avenue in Madison WI 53705.

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Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services

Windsor/DeForest Chapel

6924 Lake Road


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