The Johnson Family loses its Matriarch

Merry Jo, fondly known as “Jo” Johnson died on February 12 in Cannon Falls, Minn. at the age of 90. Jo was born in Grand Rapids Minn. and was an entertainer, once performing with Red Skelton, before becoming a Northwest Airlines stewardess in 1949. A memorial service will be held Tuesday, Feb. 16 in Cannon Falls, Minn. See for details.


Merry “Jo” and Herb Johnson in Billings Montana

Jo flew them all – All ten NWA Boeing B-377 Stratocruisers, ships 701-710. She showed me her logbook. She flew married, too, when it was not allowed.  It helped that she married a Northwest pilot, Herb Johnson in 1951 and the airline had a critical need for more help at the time.


Jo, Scott, Herb and Erick Johnson, 2007

Their union produced a flying dynasty, including a pilot son and grandson and a daughter Linda, who has worked as a NWA/Delta customer service agent at MSP for many years.  Herb was a NWA pilot for 32 years, retiring in 1981. Son Scott has flown for Northwest/Delta for 29 years and his son Erik, Herb and Jo’s grandson, started with Mesaba (NWA) in 2007.

Lady Skywriter enjoyed meeting Jo and Herb at their home in Cannon Falls, Minn. in 2008 to interview them for a chapter in her book Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels, published in 2009.  You’ll enjoy reading about their exploits and how it happened that Jo was allowed to fly with Herb after they got married.  Herb died in 2013 and his passing is noted in the 2nd Edition “Flown West” section. A 2nd Edition of Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels, with 56 more pages and 83 more photographs was published in 2015 and is available for purchase on this website.

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