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Obituary for Agnes Irene Cowell Johnstone

Agnes Irene Cowell Johnstone, 94, of Ada, MN, passed away peacefully early Monday morning, May 8, 2017, at the Benedictine Living Community of Ada. Agnes had been a resident there since August 24, 2016.

Prior to living in Ada, Agnes had spent 11 years as a resident of The Summit Assisted Living, in Crookston, MN. Agnes was born at Eldred, MN near Crookston, on October 16, 1922, the daughter of Gerrit and Clara (DeYoung) Brolsma. Agnes grew up near Eldred and Beltrami on the farm; she received her early education in the country schools near Eldred and Beltrami; and later earned her GED from Crookston's Central High School. As a young woman she was employed as a housekeeper for farm families in the Crookston area. In 1941, at the age of 19, Agnes went to Oakland, CA to work as an electric welder at Moore Shipyards, on many of the naval warships being built in support of the war effort. In 1945 she returned to Crookston and worked as a telephone operator for Northwestern Bell. On June 1, 1946 Agnes was united in marriage to John Cowell. The couple made their home east of Crookston, near the Red Lake River, where they raised their family. After the children were in school Agnes worked for Jiffy Fry of Crookston from 1958-1972. John passed away on June 21, 1971. On June 8, 1974 Agnes married Sheldon Johnstone of Browerville, MN. In 1977 they moved from rural Browerville to a home on Lower Hay Lake near Pine River, MN, and in 1992 they moved to Pokegema Lake near Grand Rapids, MN. They settled in Crookston in 2003, and Sheldon passed away on August 19, 2009.

Agnes was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Crookston where she taught Sunday School and sang in the choir for many years. One of Agnes' passions was making things grow; be it vegetables, strawberries, or the beautiful flowers she raised wherever she lived. Agnes' biggest joy was her family.
She entertained her grandchildren with many favorite lake activities, and always made sure to have her favorite treats for her family, whenever they came to visit.

Agnes leaves 2 surviving children and their spouses: David and Karen Cowell of Dubuque, IA, and Coleen and Jerry Bitker of Halstad, MN, and son-in-law, Michael Danielson of Viroqua, WI; Grandchildren: Jyl(John) McIntosh, Jake(Sharnel)Bitker, Katie(Corey)Starr, and Jonathan(Amy)Danielson; Great-Grand Children: Michaela and John G. McIntosh, Lillian, Elzetta, Sharlet, and Adeliza Bitker, Landen and Blake Starr, and Evan and Claire Danielson. Surviving step-children: Alice Harris, Hondo, TX, David(Diane)Johnstone, Browerville, Linda Miller, Alexandria, and Donna(Terry)Zimmer, Nelson. Step—Grandchildren: Chris(Sara)Johnstone, Michael Johnstone, Josh Johnstone, Brenda Miller, Becky(Tim)Ness, and Kayla(Ryan)Bachand, and Kelly Zimmer. Step-Great Grandchildren, Ronnie, Mary, Maria, Nicholas, Selena, Kihley, and Siri Johnstone, Meli Finstad, Blake, Elijah, and Camden Ness. Agnes is also survived by her brother John (Margaret)Brolsma of Bloomington, and sister Charlene Terpstra of Crookston.

In addition to her husbands, John Cowell and Sheldon Johnstone, Agnes was preceded in death by her beloved daughter, Patricia Danielson; parents Gerrit and Clara Brolsma, and brothers, George(Jessie), Herman(Lillian) and Allen(Leah) Brolsma, and sister Sady(Ben) Newell. Also preceding Agnes in death, brother-in-law Ernest Terpstra, son-in-law, Willie Harris, and great-granddaughter Kristin Johnstone. May God bless the memory of Agnes Irene Cowell Johnstone.

The funeral service for Agnes Cowell Johnstone will be held at 2:00pm, Sunday, May 14, 2017, at the Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home in Crookston with Pastor Karen Finnegan of Faith United Church, Ada, MN, officiating. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the funeral. Interment will follow the service in the Oakdale Cemetery, Crookston.
Online registry:

Funeral Home:
Stenshoel-Houske Funeral & Cremation Service
615 South Minnesota Street
Crookston, MN
US 56716

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2:00 PM
Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home and Cremation Service

615 South Minnesota Street
Crookston, MN 56716

Visitation for one hour prior to the funeral.





Oakdale Cemetery

Memorial Drive
Crookston, MN 56716


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