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Sylvester B. Johnson
Sylvester B. Johnson

Sylvester B. Johnson passed away December 27, 2018 at Harrison Arkansas Rehabilitation and Health Care Facility near his winter home above the Buffalo River Canyon at Jasper, Arkansas. He had been airlifted to Fayetteville cardiology in early November for emergency heart surgery, which went well, but his physical body could not survive.

Sylvester and his two brothers, Karsten and Howard grew up on their family from on the edge of Argyle, WI near their extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. All three brothers attended school in Argyle and graduated from Argyle High School, Sylvester in 1951. He played in the high school band and loved music. His mother taught him piano and he played the organ at the Lutheran Church.

After graduating from high school, he took a two-year teacher training course at Green County Normal School in Monroe where he received his teaching diploma in 1953, qualifying him to teach in Wisconsin rural schools. Sylvester continued his education with classes at UW-Platteville while continuing to help on the farm and working at Oaktron in Monroe and at their suburban Chicago location. His education continued all his life. Classes at UW-Madison were usually held in Madison, but others, comparative education courses and workshops were often held elsewhere in the world and gave him the opportunity to take his family along where they got acquainted with relatives in Norway and England.

The first school he taught at was Farmers Grove School. It was a small rural school between Postville and Blanchardville. He told us that in addition to teaching, he was also responsible for bringing in firewood and keeping the stove going each day.

His class consisted of boys with problems who were delivered as a group in a police van and picked up after school. Sylvester often talked about the responsiveness and accomplishments of “his boys.” He often wondered where they were now and how they were doing.

The rest of his teaching career was with the Madison Metropolitan School District.  He was team leader for other teachers working with children in the special needs program. Taking early retirement in 1990, his last few years were at the west side, Van Hise Middle School. He taught math and conducted computer lab sessions, with the brand-new concept of teaching computer in schools. The Lab consisted of a dozen Vic-20’s, an early version of Commodore.

Sylvester served as a contractor/assistant builder for the home in Verona, which was started in 1967. Then in retirement final details could be completed with updates. Retirement meant more time for traveling. Winters and cold parts of the fall and spring were spent in Tennessee and Arkansas with trips back at Christmas to see family still here. Summers were for Verona. The house was finally finished and sold only to buy another home in Verona. He always loved to come back home.

He is survived by his wife: Wilma L. (nee Russell) Johnson of Verona, and Jasper, AR; his brother: Howard (Mary Ann) Johnson of Monroe; Howard’s children: Tamara (Jeff) Owen of Brooklyn, WI, Tricia (Brian) Bassett of Monroe, and Scott (Christy) Johnson of Monroe; Karsten’s children: Laurie, Ronnie, Randy, Ricky, and Elizabeth all from the Salt Lake City, UT area; as well as many great-nieces and nephews including: Derek Owen, Justin Owen, Lauren Hendrickson, Jessica Hendrickson, and Brandon Bassett. He was preceded in death by his parents: Chester B. and Alma (nee Hanson) Johnson; and his brother: Karsten Johnson.

A memorial service will be held Friday, May 3, 2019 at 11:00 A.M. at Erickson Funeral Home (801 Milwaukee St., Argyle) with Rev. Daniel Bohlman of Argyle Lutheran Church in Argyle officiating. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery. A visitation will be held Friday, May 3, 2019 from 9:30 A.M. until the time of services at the funeral home. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at

For those who prefer, a memorial fund has been established in Sylvester’s name.