After living in various places around the world and across the United States, Joyce Johnson came back to her birthplace of Redwood Falls to retire....
Those who know Joyce Johnson would likely never guess she was a shy kid.
The Redwood Falls native and 1957 graduate of Redwood Falls, was born in 1939 and lived on a farm three miles south of town.
“I received an excellent education at country school and then I continued at Lincoln school,” she said.
It was early in her education when Johnson learned to read, and she has not really stopped since.
In fact, Johnson made a career out of books, as she spent most of her working years as a librarian in Montana and California.
Having earned a degree in education at Mankato State, John-son began her career as a teacher in Luverne, but that experience was short-lived.
“In those days if you were a woman you really had two choices,” Johnson explained. “You could teach or be a secretary.”
After teaching for one year, Johnson discovered another option, and that led her to the Philippines.
“I joined the Peace Corps,” said Johnson.
The next years were spent teaching English as a second language to teachers in the Philippines. She considers that Peace Corps experience one of the best in her life.
“The Filipino people were wonderful,” said Johnson, adding the exchange experience definitely was mutually beneficial, as she taught them and learned about new cultural perspective.
When her experience in the Peace Corps came to an end, Johnson wondered what she would do next, and that led her to Washington, D.C.
During her growing up years, Johnson does not recall traveling much, as she said the longest trip she had made was as a senior when they made a class trip to Chicago.
Moving around became a theme for Johnson who worked in D.C. for a while, then came back to Redwood Falls to be with her dad when he got sick. Then it was back to California where she had received her Peace Corps training.
Along the way she had enhanced her education – learning sign language in D.C. and earning a degree in library science.
She spent 14 years in Montana working at a library in a small town, and then spent an additional 11 working in California before retiring. Then she and husband, Harry, who she met while living in Montana, had a decision to make. Where would they spend their retirement years?
Small-town life and the desire to be close to family, especially her mother, led the John-sons back to Minne-sota, and since 2007 Redwood Falls has been home.
“This is my hometown,” she said. “We love it here.”
Johnson had no in-tention of having retirement mean being idle.
After spending about a year getting their feet on the ground, John-son knew it was time to get involved.
“I did not want to just jump in when we first moved back,” she said.
What she did know is she loved the local library, adding it was part of the appeal of returning home.
“We have a great library. I don’t think I would be here if that was not the case,” she said, adding she is also glad to be part of a community with such a wonderful school.
Johnson’s volunteer work began at the library where she joined the Friends of the Library. She is currently treasurer for that organization.
Johnson also serves on the Redwood Area Library Foundation board, currently as secretary, and was recently appointed to the city’s library commission. Johnson admitted her library experiences made getting involved with the local library very attractive.
While involved in the local library, Johnson had not limited her time to that facility.
Johnson has also been involved with the Redwood Area Education Foundation, including recently serving as its president.
During the school year Johnson makes herself available to volunteer where she is needed, adding she loves being in the school environment.
Johnson is also active at St. Cather-ine’s Catholic Church as a member of the Council of Catholic Women (CCW).
She also spends time taking communion to local nursing homes, is a reader during worship services and helps wherever and whenever she can.
Johnson volunteers when the Red Cross brings the bloodmobile to town, and she is a member of The Wom-an’s Club.
“I know I could not stay home,” Johnson said when asked why she has gotten so involved. “I just love to get out and about and meet people.”
Johnson said she considers herself a multi-tasker.
“I enjoy being able to share my gifts and feel I need to do that while I still can,” she said.
Having family close by, she added, is another benefit, and just knowing she can call on her siblings and invite them over for dinner is something she truly cherishes.
“There were times when I was away when I missed not being around family,” she said. “It really is good to have family close.”
Johnson said Red-wood Falls has changed dramatically over the years, but in some ways it is truly the same town.
“The people here have always been great and very supportive,” she said. “This is still an active community that is very civic minded.”
During those growing up years, Johnson recognizes the benefits she experienced growing up in Redwood Falls, and she is so happy to have the privilege of being able to give something back.
Johnson considers herself to be part of a unique generation that can remember seeing horses working in the fields and having party phone lines to holding a phone in one’s hand and being able to contact someone with that device in any given place at any given time (and one doesn’t have to worry about the neighbors listening in).
Johnson continues to be an avid reader.
She does enjoy spending time at home, too, especially when “Jeopardy” is on TV.
Johnson spent much of her life living in big cities and even halfway around the world, and yet when the ultimate choice came she picked living in the place where her life story began, and she has loved being able to add more to the story.