Posted 1/19/11 (Wed)
Frances Leona “Onie” Olson Erickson-Johnson, 82, of Alamo, N.D., formerly of Alexander, N.D., entered into rest on Jan. 4, 2011, at 6:45 a.m. in the home of her daughter, LoryJean E. Wilson, in Charlottesville, Va. A celebration of her entrance into the arms of Christ was held at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Williston. Pastor Chris Raiford officiated, and interment was held at Hillside Memory Gardens in Williston.
Frances Leona “Onie” Olson Erickson-Johnson was born on Dec. 8, 1928, in Buffalo, Minn., to Frances Vesta Pettis and Joseph Nathanial Olson. Onie grew up in Monticello, Minn., on a dairy farm; she was the oldest of seven children.
She told stories of her and her brother, Milton, wanting to fly, so they made wings for their bike out of sheets. They made a parachute out of a sheet and jumped out of the barn hay loft. Needless to say, they were not successful, but they lived to tell the stories.
Onie loved to ice skate. It was great to skate on the river to get to school, and didn’t take as long as going by the road. They used to have ice skating parties with several of the neighbor children. She loved to dance on and off the ice. She met Robert L. “Bud” Erickson at a dance, and their mutual love of music, dancing and ice skating led to their marriage on May 18, 1944. Shortly after their marriage, Bud left for the Pacific during World War II. After he returned home, they moved to Alexander.
Leona was a depression child. Everything was hard and most people were poor. She learned never to throw away; use old T-shirts for rags, remove all the buttons and zippers, save the back of pants legs for patches and for reuse. There isn’t a memory of her ever buying a new zipper or buttons. She would pick out enough feed sacks to match to make a new blouse, skirts or curtains.
Onie and Bud loved the farm, cattle, and their horses. They worked side by side 24/7; driving truck, tractor, combining, and delivering calves, colts, and all the livestock. They made a name for themselves with the Coulee Ranch Black Quarter Horses. Their horses have shown up in Canada and California.
Most of all, Onie loved her children. First born was LoryJean E. Wilson; two years later came Walter A. Erickson. Then they waited 16 years before having LeAnna K. Halverson-Dean, and two years later was Stephen W. Erickson, the last. She was the momma lion; don’t mess with her kids.
Onie was love. She always wanted to help those in need, especially children. Onie and Bud took in 18 kids that were having trouble, and gave them love and helped them find a way in life. One time they took in a young family, moved their little broken down trailer to the farm, gave them work on the farm, food and helped get them back on their feet. It was their hearts’ pull to help those who were down and out. “Love your neighbor as yourself” was the word God gave Onie. Bud would bring home the homeless and the unloved and say “Onie, let’s help them.” He knew she wouldn’t say no.
In 1968, Leona became a Shaklee Distributor, and was very good at it. She worked her way up in the company to District, Regional Supervisor. After 21 years, she sold out. Then she and Bud built their dream home – the log house. They enjoyed this home for ten years before Bud passed in July 1998.
Leona had a couple of quiet years to rebuild a life for herself. She knew nothing of being alone, since she married at age 15, and now being 65, to be alone without a companion, she was lost. She had had a working partner for 55 years.
In 2002, Leona met Melford Johnson, and she came back to life. Mel was the love of her life, the big loveable Swede. She and Mel said when they married, if they only have five years, that will be great, and God gave them eight.
Frances Leona Erickson-Johnson was preceded in death by her mother, Frances Vesta Pettis-Olson; father, Joseph Nathanial Olson; three sisters, Caroline Weaver, Vernetta Wynn, and Nila Othoudt; one brother, Milton Olson; her first husband, Robert L. Erickson; and a grandchild, Sarah Benfield.
She is survived by her four children, LoryJean Wilson of Charlottesville, Walter A. Erickson of Minot, N.D., LeAnna (James) Dean of Carson City, Nev., and Steve (Vickie) Erickson of Alexander; seven grandchildren, Betty and Butch Dickenson, Walter Erickson Jr., Crystal Erickson, Bryan Halverson, Steven M. Erickson, and Dakota and Marshal Erickson; one great-grandson, Eric R. Wells Jr.; two great-great-grandchildren, Cheyenne and Eric R. Wells III; two brothers, Milo (Mardy) Olson of Becker, Minn., and Loren (Paula) Olson of Saligna, Ariz.; numerous nieces and nephews. She also leaves behind her husband, Melford Johnson, and all of his children and grandchildren, whom she loved very much.
God has blessed you, Mom.
All my love, LoryJean E. Wilson.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Upper Missouri Ministries, PO Box 111, Epping, ND 58843, or to the American Cancer Society, 2401 46th Avenue NE, Mandan, ND 58554.
Friends may share memories and condolences with the family at www.fulkersons.com.