/ Obituaries / Olive Elizabeth LaFave Johnson

Olive Elizabeth LaFave Johnson

Olive Elizabeth LaFave Johnson, 92, passed away peacefully at Friendly Village Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhinelander on May 1, 2020. She was born in Bessemer, Mich., to John and Saima LaFave of Manitowish Waters. 

Olive attended Northern Michigan University in Marquette, where she met her husband-to-be, Forrest Johnson. Upon graduation from college, Ollie and Forrie moved back to Manitowish Waters, where they lived and worked with Ollie‘s parents at LaFave’s Resort on Island Lake and where they eventually built their home and raised their five children. 

Ollie had many talents and interests. She was an accomplished pianist and piano teacher. Some of her favorite hobbies included doing crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and needlework. She created dozens of beautiful, intricately detailed pieces of needlepoint art, Christmas ornaments, and Christmas stockings for her family and made and donated countless beautiful rugs, afghans, and banners for raffles at her church, Our Lady Queen of Peace in Manitowish Waters. Ollie spent many hours volunteering for the Manitowish Waters Lions Club, sewing banners and participating in the eyeglass recycling program. She was a wonderful cook and a talented seamstress and gardener. For all of her accomplishments, Ollie was quiet and unassuming, humble and modest, selfless and generous. She always put her children and her husband first, supporting and encouraging them, but never judging them. She was the wind beneath their wings.

After raising her five children, Ollie decided to put her education to work and began teaching at Lakeland High School in Minocqua, where she taught typing and business for 15 years. Her priority was always serving others, whether it be resort guests, her students, or her family.  

Ollie and Forrie, who was also a teacher at Minocqua and Lakeland High Schools for 42 years, retired together and enjoyed many happy years of camping, bicycling, relaxing, and enjoying time spent with their children, grandchildren, and many longtime friends. 

Olive is survived by Forrest, her loving husband of 71 years; sons Michael (Janice) Johnson of Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada, and Marcus Johnson (partner Renee) of Ha’iku, Hawaii; daughters Linda (John) Bellmer of Manitowish Waters, Lisa (Steven) Hinz-Johnson of Chelsea, Mich., and Susan (James) Sawyer of Rhinelander; grandchildren Morgan, Megan, Marissa, Taylor, Mickey, Ava, Marina, Benjamin, Andrea, and Evelyn, great-grandson Forrest, and sister Susie Bauer of Manitowish Waters.  

She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Saima LaFave, and sister Jean Aubrey. 

Heartfelt gratitude is extended to Terry, Heather, Jenny, and all of Ollie’s family at Friendly Village Nursing and Rehab Center, who lovingly cared for her through her last six years with endless patience, compassion, humor, and dignity.

A memorial gathering in celebration of Ollie’s life will be held when we are all able to come together safely again. 

For those who would like to make a donation in memory of Ollie, her family suggests considering the following or a charity of your choice.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation



Donation Processing 

The Michael J. Fox Foundation 

P.O. Box 5014 

Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014

Parkinson’s Foundation


200 SE 1st Street 

Suite 800

Miami, FL 33131

Online condolences may be shared at www.nimsgernfuneral.com. Nimsgern Funeral & Cremation Services is serving the family.


{{ item.contents.byline }}

{{ item.title }}

{{ item.description | truncate(200) }}

See more obituaries »

Stay Connected to the Northwoods

Learn what a subscription to the Lakeland Times offers you:

Subscribe Today »