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Clara Johnson, 96

| July 31, 2022 12:00 AM

On the morning of April 11, 2022, at age 96, Clara passed away of natural causes in her home at Hunter’s Pointe, her devoted daughter Barbara at her side.

Clara, the youngest of Nels and Steinvor (Bakka) Skogen’s five children, was born in Suldal, Norway, on Aug. 9, 1925. Three years later she immigrated with her parents and siblings to Epping, North Dakota. The enterprising Nels had homesteaded in North Dakota before returning to Norway to marry and create a family.

Mom was a positive person, perhaps as a result of being a child of the Depression years, when life on the prairie was often challenging. She related how the family dealt with grasshopper and cutworm plagues and her days herding sheep barefooted (shoes were saved for school). She was an excellent student, graduating as valedictorian of her high school at age 16.

She was still 16 when she moved to Williston, North Dakota, roomed with several young women, and entered the workforce as an assistant to the Williams County extension agent. Mom possessed musical talents (taught herself on the guitar) and had a clear and near pitch-perfect voice and loved to harmonize. She grew up dancing, a passion that followed her throughout life; she was 92 when she broke a hip “jitterbugging” (She recovered nicely, but no more dancing).

In 1942 Mom met a tall, dark-haired field hand from Minnesota who was working on her family’s farm; following a year courtship Clara wed Percy Johnson in Williston. They soon started a family with Kelvey, Beverly and Barbara following in order. After a number of years of farm-related work in North Dakota, the family moved to Kalispell for greater opportunities. Mom remained a homemaker until Barbara started school and then Mom went to work for the Montana Job Service. She started as receptionist, but quickly transitioned to interviewer once her people skills were recognized. Clara relished more than holding her own in this male-dominated environment. Later in life Clara and Percy took on the challenge of owning and operating a successful steakhouse in Kalispell. 

Clara and Percy were an active couple, dancing, camping and, most especially, enjoying the company of their many friends, establishing relationships lasting a lifetime. Mom’s positive nature was most inspiringly manifested in truly unconditional love and care shown to family and friends.

Clara is survived by her daughter Beverly Devaney (Ralph Schneider) of Cascade, Montana, Barbara Cooper (Stephen Cooper) of Helena, and daughter-in-law Jeanne Johnson of Great Falls. Clara is also survived by seven grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and two great-great- grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Clara was preceded in death by her parents; her husband of 47-years, Percy; son, Kelvey; son-in-law, Charles Devaney; her sisters, Berit (Harry Leverenz) and Anna Anderson (Ted); brothers, Conrad Skogen (Delores) and Osmond Skogen (Dorothy); and infant brother Magna, born and died in Norway.

Mom’s last years were rewarding thanks to the staff and friends she made at Hunter’s Pointe; her last days were spent under the gracious care of Marie and Stephanie. We, including most especially Mom, are sincerely grateful to those folks.

Mom will be laid to rest in Kalispell next to dad at Fairview Cemetery at 1 p.m. on Aug. 6; following the burial, a social gathering and reception will be held at 2 p.m. at the Moose Lodge, 2158 U.S. Hwy. 2 East in Kalispell; Clara and Percy were charter members and devoted significant time and energy to the Lodge. 

Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer condolences to the family or share a memory of Clara. Mama, you will be forever loved and missed! We bid you “happy trails” on your next journey.     

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