Colleen Mae Johnston Crow


Colleen Mae Johnston Crow, 91, of East Grand Forks, Minnesota died on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023, at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks. 

Colleen was preceded in death by her father and mother, Wilbur “Hon” and Mabel “Mae” Johnston; her sister, Doris Lance; brother-in-law, Richard Lance; and a great-niece, Gabrielle Lance. She is survived by six nieces & nephews, Catherine (Cliff) Yates, Dan (Carole) Lance, John (Karen) Lance, Susan (Paul) Hart, David Lance, Tom (Alisa) Lance; 13 great-nieces & nephews; and many cousins, especially Denny (Linda) Maetzold (daughter, Leslie) and David (Sharon) Maetzold.

Colleen was born October 21, 1931, in Warren, Minnesota and grew up on her family’s farm, 2 miles southwest of Angus, Minnesota. Growing up on the farm was a love/hate thing. Colleen loved getting her driver’s license when she was 12 to drive farm trucks, but she did not like being out in the fields getting hot and dirty during thrashing time. Nevertheless, Colleen worked hard on the farm which set the precedent for the rest of her life, and she worked hard on everything that she tackled. She attended grade school in Angus and then attended high school in Osakis, Minnesota where she lived with her Aunt Jean & Uncle Herb Olsen. After graduation, Colleen moved back to the farm thinking she’d have the summer to relax before finding a job in the fall. Much to her consternation, the first Monday morning that she was back, her dad took her to Crookston where he had already found a job for her with Polk County. After several years working for the county, Colleen moved to Denver where she worked for the federal government at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. She then moved on to Phoenix with her wonderful friend, Mert Strand, where she worked for a medical clinic. They lived in an apartment with no A/C, but she and Mert didn’t care as they were having the time of their lives! After several years of merriment, Colleen & Mert returned to Minnesota. Colleen went on to attend her beloved University of North Dakota, graduating as a registered nurse and then went on to teach nursing at UND, a job she found very rewarding. She then went to work for the East Grand Forks School District as the district’s School Nurse, a job she truly loved. She especially loved the kids, many of whom as adults would recognize her and say hello when she was out and about. In addition to her school job, Colleen provided summer nursing care for children in migrant camps, another job she loved. Notably, Colleen survived two great floods, the 1972 Rapid City Flood, one of the most destructive floods in U.S. history, while attending a nursing convention with her colleagues where she was trapped in a hotel for several days. She also survived the 1997 Red River Flood, after which she persevered for over a year rebuilding her home where she resided until 2020 when she moved to Good Samaritan Heritage Grove in East Grand Forks. Colleen was a wonderful volunteer and loved serving the community. For many years she enjoyed serving folks at the East Grand Forks Food Shelf and volunteered at the Christmas Eve dinner every year at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks. She especially enjoyed her work as an emergency responder for the American Red Cross which included working to help hurricane victims in the South and as a volunteer responder for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City with her friend, Mert. In her retirement years she provided elderly respite care as a Red Cross volunteer. Her other interests included water skiing at Maple Lake, trips to Dahlstrom Chevrolet in Oslo with her cousin, Denny, to see the new cars, painting and photography. She especially enjoyed picture framing and over the years she framed countless family photos, graduation diplomas and other certificates of accomplishment for community members. And, of course, she enjoyed joining her friends for meals in restaurants around town, especially for breakfast. But perhaps her greatest joy was getting together with her family at “the lake” - Minnewaska and then Bass Lake. She loved spending time with her sister, Doris, and brother-in-law, Dick, and their kids, Cathy, Dan, John, Susan, David, Tom, and their families, which were the highlight of her life. There were many happy times with storytelling, laughter and maybe a beer or two. Colleen was a remarkable woman who will be missed by many people, most especially her family, and leaves behind a legacy of service to her friends and community.

Colleen was a member of the University Lutheran Church in Grand Forks where a MEMORIAL SERVICE will be held on Friday, April 28, 2023 at 10:30a.m., followed by lunch at the church.

Donations in her honor may be made to the University Lutheran Church, the UND School of Nursing, the Macular Degeneration Association ( or The East Grand Forks Food Shelf.

Arrangements by Dahl Funeral Home (218)773-2971

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