Community Foundation(s): Brainerd Lakes Area
Award: 2009 Award in Philanthropy
The accolades Arnie Johnson has received have been well-deserved and numerous. But talk to Arnie and it’s obvious there’s a legacy much deeper. The foundation of his accomplishments lies within the decades-long relationship with his wife, JoAnn. Theirs is a true partnership. At its essence, it’s a love story with each other, their family and the greater community they have come to call home. It is their commitment to that community that earned the couple the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation’s 2009 Award in Philanthropy.
Currently sole or majority owner of seven thriving businesses, Arnie’s leadership has built careers and driven economic development. The couple has served on a variety of boards and given generously to many organizations. Together, the Johnsons help support the hospital, his carpentry school, an orphanage and schools in Project Haiti and countless other organizations such as a mission in Uganda, Teen Challenge, Port, Bridges of Hope, Timber Bay, Women’s Shelter and Timberwood Church of Nisswa.
As Arnie observed in his 2001 book, “We believe deeply in the importance of kindness. Over the years, we’ve spent a great deal of time trying to help others from men and women seeking business advice to community development groups and boards of directors. The rewards received are often returned as a great blessing.”
A quality they instilled in daughters Joan and Vicky, and with their nine grandchildren, compassion was integral to Arnie and JoAnn’s own upbringing.“My dad always gave to others, whether it was sharing the food we had to helping out in other ways. We were taught to make a difference in the lives of others with each and every person,” JoAnn said.