Cover photo for Neil P. "Grumpa" Johnson's Obituary

Neil P. "Grumpa" Johnson

October 2, 1941 — December 17, 2023


Neil P. "Grumpa" Johnson

Neil Johnson, 82, passed away peacefully on Sunday, December 17, 2023, at his home in Appleton in the company of his wife and loving family. He had been in declining health and was receiving hospice care at home. Neil’s family is grateful to ThedaCare Hospice and Synergy Home Care for their excellent care.

Neil Peter Johnson was born on October 2, 1941, in Plymouth, Wisconsin, the son of Dr. Walter and Janet (Kampmann) Johnson. He and his four siblings enjoyed an idyllic childhood in a semi-rural “Frederick Street experience” setting. Neil fished the near-by Mullet River, and fishing became a lifetime hobby for him. He’d ride horses with his sister Karen. For a few weeks in summer he’d stay with his grandparents, Olaf and Theresa Johnson, in Menominee, Michigan, and catch perch off a near-by breakwater.

Neil lettered in football at Plymouth High School. He graduated in 1961 and immediately went on to UW-Oshkosh, graduating in 1965 with a History and Business degree.  Kresge Corporation snatched him up right out of college. His first assignment in Madison was soon interrupted by a military draft notice from Uncle Sam.

With a background in managing inventories, Neil was assigned to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, US Army, from 1967 until 1969; Supplies in Saigon and Da Nang, Vietnam. He honorably extended his war zone tour from 3 to 15 months, with enough R&R time to visit Sydney, Hong Kong, and Bangkok.  Neil loved exploring the world.

Fresh back from Vietnam and discharged from the Army in 1969, as an E5 Sergeant, Neil returned to Kresge Corporation. While working as an assistant manager in Chicago, he met Barb Setty. They were married September 25, 1971. 

While on assignment  in St. Louis, Neil and Barb started their own family. Kim was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1974, and Kari was born in Minneapolis in 1980. Daughter Kristie was born in 1977, but sadly passed away shortly after birth. Neil would always wake his daughters with a joyful exclamation of “Daylight in the swamp!”

Neil loved an adventure, and he enjoyed many throughout his life: driving his Austin-Healey, amethyst mining in Canada, searching for polar bears with Pa/Doc, traveling to DC for the 2023 honor flight, riding bikes to the Dairy Queen with grandkids, canoeing in the BWCA, weekends full of fishing, skiing & picnics, listening to great scientists, savoring Vegas midnight breakfast and  ice cream runs, an Ireland trip with horse events with his sister Judy, traveling back to Menominee and his home town of Plymouth complete with a steak sandwich and a stolen moment on Pa’s rock, going on bike trips with his siblings, and observing Veterans Day meet ups with his brothers. Grumpa, as he was lovingly called by his grandchildren, was famous for his homemade ice cream and his unending willingness to include them in any adventure they could dream up. He would always tell his children and grandchildren never to pass up an adventure.

Neil led a robust life of 40+ years in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, serving K-Mart with a strong work ethic, but in recent years his health was rapidly degraded by the effects of Lewy Body Dementia with Parkinsonism. He will be remembered for his fierce loyalty to family and friends and missed by all who knew him.

Neil was preceded in death by his parents, Walter “Doc” and Janet Johnson  and by his infant daughter, Kristie. He is survived by his wife, Barb, his daughters, Kim (Rich) Jazdzewski of Appleton, and Kari Davies of Bloomington, Minnesota. He is also survived by his 6 grandchildren: Becca, Kristi, AJ, and Ella Jazdzewski, and Drew and Norah Davies, and by his siblings: Millard (Barbara) Johnson of Germantown, Russell (Judy) Johnson of Appleton, Karen (Dennis) Lautenbach of Elkhart Lake, and Judy (Mike) Schreiber-Johnson of Fremont.

We will remember Neil with military honors and a sharing of memories at 4:00 PM on Friday, December 29, 2023 at Wichmann Funeral Home, located at 537 N. Superior Street in Appleton.   A time of fellowship will follow.

Neil will be memorialized at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota and also will eternally rest with his daughter Kristie in Hymera, Indiana.  There will not be a ceremony at these locations but details will be made available to those who wish, at a later date.

Neil was the proud recipient of an Old Glory Honor Flight earlier this year. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Old Glory Honor Flight, 4650 W. Spencer St., Appleton, 54914 or

To designate, people make notes on their checks and that’s how we know it’s for Neil’s memorial; same if they do an online donation, there’s a spot to add a note.


Past Services

Honors and Sharing of Memories

Friday, December 29, 2023

4:00 - 5:00 pm (Central time)

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