Neils S. Johnson Jr., 92: Veteran, edited model-railroad news for 30 years

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Neils Sofus Johnson Jr., 92, died Sept. 1 from complications of a stroke.

Johnson was born Feb. 13, 1922, in Portland, the only child of Neils and Annie Johnson. He grew up on the family’s 80-acre vegetable farm on Pleasant Hill Road in Scarborough. The land is now in the process of being preserved by the Scarborough Land Trust.

Deciding not to follow in his father’s footsteps as a farmer, Johnson went to work in 1941 as an accountant for the Portland Pipe Line Corp. But he soon found himself fighting in World War II, serving for three years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Johnson fought in the Battle of the Bulge and received the Bronze Star for his valor.

After returning from the war, he was employed with Portland Pipe Line for more than 35 years, and eventually rose to become assistant treasurer.

Johnson was active in St. Lawrence Congregational Church on Portland’s Munjoy Hill,  keeping the building in repair and serving as treasurer and a Sunday-school teacher. He was a dedicated bowler and member of the company team at the Big 20 in Scarborough.

He also became an avid train buff, working on Lionel model trains with his sons in the attic of their home at Highland Avenue in South Portland. For almost 30 years, he was editor of a local monthly railroad newsletter, The 470, which is still circulated around the world. He also enjoyed traveling widely throughout the United States by rail.

Johnson was predeceased by his wife of 34 years, Dorothy Davis Johnson, who died July 14, 1983.

He is survived by his son, Ronald, and wife Colleen, of South Portland; son, Bradley, and wife Kathy, of Acton, Massachusetts; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A celebration of Johnson’s life was held Sept. 6 at the First Evangelical Free Church, in Westbrook, followed by a private graveside service.

Memorial donations may be made to the First Evangelical Free Church or to the Scarborough Land Trust.

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