Richard C. Johnson 1929-1959
Posted By: Merllene Andre Bendixen (email)
Date: 4/20/2014 at 21:53:57
Dolliver Man Burns to Death in Fire
Farm Home is Destroyed
By Tom France
Richard Johnson, 30, Dolliver, was burned to death early Sunday morning in a blaze that destroyed the Wayne West farm home one and one-half miles northeast of the Estherville airport. Johnson was staying in the home Saturday night while the West family visited relatives in Cedar Falls. He had worked for West for about three weeks.
According to the sheriff’s report, a neighboring farmer discovered the blaze about 5 a.m. Sunday morning and notified the telephone operator who in turn called the Gruver fire department. A cream truck driver also saw the blaze a short time later and notified another farmer living near the operator and was told the fire had already been reported.
Emmet County Sheriff Linn Foderberg said there has been some criticism of the Estherville fire department for not answering the alarm, but that this is completely unwarranted since they were never notified of the fire. The operator reported the fire to the Gruver department, which was the nearest the scene, and the Estherville department was not contacted, authorities said.
The home and all its furnishings were completely destroyed in the blaze. Foderberg said that presumably Johnson was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom when the fire broke out. The body was found in the basement, all that was left of the building, still lying on the bed where presumably he died without awakening, the sheriff said.
Authorities said they have no idea how the fire started. There was such total destruction that it is doubtful anyone will ever know the cause, Foderberg said. The fire evidently spread very quickly because the house was burning out of control when the fire department arrived, authorities reported.
Firemen were not aware that anyone was in the house, but an investigating official said it would have been impossible to do anything if they had known. The body was discovered in the basement after the fire had completely destroyed the building.
The body was too badly burned for identification but it was known that Johnson intended to spend the night in the West home. A farm neighbor said that he saw lights on in the house about 10:30 Saturday night indicating that Johnson was in the house at that time.
Johnson had been living with his parents, Mrs. and Mrs. Burt Johnson near Dolliver and working on the West farm.
Estherville Jaycees said today that a clothing and linen drive for the West family will be held tonight from 7 to 8:30. Anyone wishing to donate articles of clothing is asked to call the radio station. Jaycee will call at the donor’s home to pick up the clothing. The Wests have two sons, Timmy, 4; and Tommy, 2.
Funeral services for Johnson will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Dolliver Methodist church. F.M. Hartung of Graettinger, substitute minister there, will officiate at the services. Although the casket will not be opened, the body will lie in state at the church from noon Wednesday until time of services.
Pallbearers are Herbert Saunders, Paul Neppl, Duane Vigdal, Richard Harness, Wayne West and Kenneth Reinhardt.
He was born Jan. 6, 1929, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Burt Johnson. He was baptized in the Dolliver Methodist Church. Richard graduated from the Dolliver High School in 1947, attended Estherville Junior College two years and also Mankato Teachers College for two years. In August, 1951 he was inducted into the armed services and was discharged in May, 1953. He served 10 months in the Korean Conflict. At present he was employed as a farm hand.
Survivors include his parents; one brother, Howard of Dolliver; two sisters, Mrs. Ward (Lavon) Smith of Estherville and Geraldine at home. He is also survived by four nephews and two nieces. (Estherville Daily News, Estherville, IA, November 2, 1959)
Emmet Obituaries maintained by LaVern Velau.
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