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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published November 19 2012

New Town shootings: Slain grandma was prominent community member

NEW TOWN, N.D. – The woman who was killed here Sunday was president of her church council, served on many community boards and cut fabric squares for the quilting club, neighbors and friends said Monday.

“Martha Johnson was probably one of the nicest people I ever knew,” said Manda Patterson wife of the Rev. Grant Patterson at Bethel Lutheran Church, where Johnson served on the church council. “She was a delightful woman with just a big heart and would do anything for anybody.”

Johnson worked for Northrop Grumman in New Town and retired a few years ago, said Nina Uran, who lives in Johnson’s neighborhood and attended church with her. Johnson was involved with the community, including the American Legion Auxiliary and a quilting club, Uran said.

“She was just willing to do most everything,” Uran said.

Johnson was instrumental in helping transition the Good Samaritan assisted living home to Lakeside Community Living Center, said Marilyn Hudson, who recently took over Johnson’s seat on the board.

Johnson’s husband, Harley, is also active in the community and always the first to volunteer to cook for benefit breakfasts and other community events, Hudson said.

The Johnsons recently began taking care of their five grandchildren, Uran said. Three of those grandchildren were killed by the same gunman in Johnson’s home.

Many New Town residents learned about the shooting Sunday evening at a community-wide Thanksgiving dinner, Uran said.

“Sad. Shocking that it would happen in this town and to such a nice family,” Uran said.

Patterson said it will be important for people to pray for the Johnson family, as well as the family of the suspect who also died Sunday.

“It’s devastating for the community,” Patterson said. “It’s going to be a hard thing for a long time.”


Amy Dalrymple is a reporter for Forum Communications based in the Oil Patch.


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