Cover photo for Deanne Johnson's Obituary
Deanne Johnson Profile Photo

Deanne Johnson

August 2, 1957 — March 22, 2024

Warroad, MN

Deanne Johnson

A Graveside service for Deanne “Nanny” Johnson will be held on Friday, April 19, 2024 at 2:00PM at Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery (Devils Lake Cemetery) in Devils Lake, ND. Everyone is welcome to join the family after burial for coffee, light snacks and sharing of remembrances at the Elks Lodge.

Deanne “Nanny” (Foster) Johnson of Warroad, MN, and formerly of Devils Lake, ND, passed away on Friday, March 22 after a five-year battle with pancreatic cancer.  She passed away at home surrounded by family. 

            Deanne (Nanny) and her twin sister Denise (Nee Nee) were born August 2, 1957, to Donald and Myrtle (Grover) Foster in Warroad, MN.  The youngest of twelve children, Nanny was orphaned after her mom died of cancer when she was three, and her dad died of cancer when she was four.  The twins were taken care of by sisters Rita, Vonnie, and Nancy at their family home, then later lived with their aunt and uncle, Dean and Mildred Foster.  It perhaps was this tragic beginning in life that gave Nanny such a strong mothering influence, and prompted her to want to be a foster parent, as well as provide a loving home for her own children.  It also influenced her career as a social worker and family counselor.

            Nanny married the love of her life, Les Johnson, on July 7, 1979, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Warroad.  They lovingly supported each other as they raised their children, Bruce, Jessica, and Brady.  Les and Nan also took in several foster children, some staying only briefly in emergency situations, but some remained closely connected to the family.  Nanny continued to be mom and grandma to some of them and their children.  With each of the children, her own or others, Nanny made sure they felt loved and valued.

            Education was important to Nanny.  She earned an associate degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota, Moorhead; and later, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.  When the children were grown, she went back to UND to earn her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work, graduating in 2007.  Nanny worked for many years with the Department of Juvenile Services in Devils Lake.  She worked for PATH and the AASK program, placing children for adoption, which she dearly loved.  She also was a social worker at the hospital in Devils Lake.  Upon moving back to Minnesota in 2015, Nanny worked for The Village Family Services as a counselor.

            Nanny and Les and their family lived most of their lives in Devils Lake, ND.  While in Devils Lake, Les and Nanny made lifelong friendships through their work and involvement in community groups such as Newcomers Club, and time spent with hockey and work friends.  Their little get-away on Devils Lake offered much fun and laughter, and many delicious walleye feasts.  Nanny and Les loved to fish and entertain together at the lake. 

            The family’s lives were forever changed when Les and Nanny’s youngest son, Brady, died from injuries sustained in a car accident on October 11, 2002.  Nanny and Les faced many difficulties and tragedies together, taking everything in stride to make the best of things and carry on.  Nanny’s battle with cancer was the one thing they couldn’t overcome.  Family was an important focus for Nanny, and she always looked forward to the annual Foster Family Reunions.  Many of her sisters surrounded her during her last days, helping to keep her comfortable and surrounded by love.  Nanny’s bond with her twin NeeNee was so strong, NeeNee retired in 2019 to help take care of Nanny.  Her help and support will be forever treasured and appreciated.  Nanny’s first and last breaths in life were shared with NeeNee.

            Nanny will be deeply missed by her loving husband, Les, of 44 years; son, Bruce Johnson of Warroad, MN; daughter, Jessica Johnson of Devils Lake, ND;  foster daughter Kris-Tina (Brian) Pieper of Rapid City, ND; grandchildren, Dailyn Crough and her two children of Pennsylvania; Chloe Gefroh (Ryan) of Fargo, ND; Gannon Gefroh (Neveah), and Ladon Johnson, both of Warroad.  Nanny is also survived by her twin sister “NeeNee” (Leigh) Hammer of Crookston, MN, and their children Dominick (Jen) and Casey (Maria); siblings, Donna Muirhead, Vonnie (Doug) Johnson and Rita Brewster, all of Warroad; Joe (Sandy) Foster of St. Louis, MO; Nancy Diesen of Hillsdale, MI; Mike Foster of Maple Grove, MN; Barbara Sheffield of Fernandina Beach, FL; Dolores “Tubby” (Leroy) Falk and Roberta (Doni) Brunell of Roseau; brother-in-law Darrell Mack; special cousin, Val Landin of Warroad; Les’s siblings, Don (Narissa) Johnson of Thailand, and Janet Johnson (Pete Sandstrom) of Roseau, MN.  Nanny is also survived by an aunt, Beatrice Peterson of Apple Valley, MN;  and many nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews, and others to whom she has provided support and love throughout the years and considered family.

            Nanny was preceded in death by her son, Brady; parents, Donald and Myrtle Foster; aunt and uncle Dean and Mildred Foster; sister, Gloria Mack; mother and father-in-law, Irene and Clarence Johnson; brother-in-law, Alan Johnson; brothers-in-law, Jim Brewster, Don Diesen, and Pete Muirhead; sister-in-law, LouAnne Foster; niece, Jennifer Grove and baby Jordan; many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

            Blessed be the memory of Deanne (Nanny) Johnson!

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Past Services

Graveside Service

Friday, April 19, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

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