George “Doug” Johnson: 1936-2019

George Douglas “Doug” Johnson, 83 of Belle Fourche, SD passed away at the South Dakota Human Services Center in Yankton, SD after a ten-year long battle with dementia.

The third of eight girls and two boys, Doug was born on January 27, 1936 in Newell, SD to George J. and Mamie (Stolnack) Johnson. His family rented ranches from south of Newell to south of Camp Crook until purchasing a ranch between Castle Rock and Redig in 1946. At the age of 10 he trailed 500 head of sheep from Camp Crook to their new home 50 miles away, with a 15-year-old friend, one horse and one dog in four days.

He attended country school through the eighth grade and graduated from Belle Fourche High School in 1954. While in high school he worked as a bell hop at the Don Pratt Hotel for his room. Following high school he attended Colorado State University for one year. Along with working on the family ranch, he worked in the Fall in the sugar beet factory and drove truck until he was drafted into the United States Army in 1961, where he served as a Military Policeman at Fort Riley, Kansas. His job in the Army was to bring soldiers back who went AWOL. On one of his trips to New York to find a prisoner, he met Patricia Ann Caswell. Following his honorable discharge from the service in 1963, he flew back to New York and the couple married in October of 1963.

They moved to the family ranch and had four children. He and his brother worked on the ranch until it was sold in 1974. Doug then bought a ranch southeast of Belle Fourche where he resided until dementia forced him into an assisted living. In 1977, he purchased an interest in a car dealership in Rapid City. He sold his interest in the dealership in 1984 and bought another dealership in Spearfish in 1986. He owned and operated that business for 17 years. He always said his best customers were the farmers and ranchers from the five-state region.

While he would spend his weekdays at the car dealership, his weekends were always spent on the ranch. During his time selling cars, he also bought a registered Angus herd and sold bulls for 20 years. His wife loved animals and calved out and kept records for the herd until her death in 1987.

Through the years he was a director for the Federal Land Bank, holding that position for ten years, and was on the advisory board for Norwest Bank. He won numerous awards for excellence and customer satisfaction through his 25 years as a Ford dealer. He was a member of the Buckaroos and the Custer Trail Riders. The highlight of the year for him was the annual trip to the NFR in Vegas. Following his retirement from the Ford dealership, he would still get up at 4:30 am every morning and go to town for his morning coffee, occasionally help his son with the morning chores and field work, and his favorite, “Chase the tail of a cow” on horseback.

Doug is survived by his three children; Tammie Johnson, Rapid City, SD, Tyron (Tami) Johnson, Coffeyville, KS and Troy (Carolyn Stansberry) Johnson, St. Onge, SD; grandchildren, Jack and Jessa, St. Onge, SD; brother, Andrew (Linda) Johnson, Rapid City, SD; sisters; Betty Niemi, Buffalo, SD, Doris Johnson, Rapid City, SD, Beverly Miller, Mission, TX, Darlene Schafer, Mission, TX, Arlene Reynold, Rapid City, SD, Judy Johnson, Sioux Falls, SD and Ida (Melvin) Johnson, Apple Valley, MN; and friend and brother in-law, Arnie Schmidt, Brandon, SD.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Patricia; daughter, Teryl Johnson; and sister, Marilyn Schmidt. Doug will be laid to rest privately with his family present at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis. A public celebration of Doug’s Life will be held on Sunday, May 26, 2019 from 12-4 PM at Troy and Carolyn’s home at 11295 SD HWY 34 between Belle Fourche and St. Onge. All of Doug’s friends are encouraged to stop by.

Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapels & Isburg Crematory of Spearfish.

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