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Patsy and Bruce Johnson are this year's grand marshals for the Ox Cart Days parade.

Patsy and Bruce selected as Ox Cart Days grand marshals

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Star Prairie’s 2013 Ox Cart Days grand marshals met in high school and have been together ever since.

Bruce and Patsy Johnson met in the 1970s while attending New Richmond High School.

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Bruce, a high school junior, took notice of Patsy at a high school dance and immediately asked her out.

“I asked her out and she didn’t want to,” Bruce said. “But she did. I don’t know if she felt sorry for me?”

It didn’t take long for the two to become fond of each other and, shortly after Patsy graduated in 1975, the two married.

“We’ve been together ever since,” Bruce said.

The Johnson’s family includes their son, Chad A. Johnson, his girlfriend, Jacki Thompson and three grandchildren, Aja, 9; Caila (Bruce’s “Angel Baby”), 8; and Izik (Bruce’s “Little Buddy”) 4.

Bruce, a Star Prairie native, has served as a trustee on the Village of Star Prairie Board since 2003 and was recently elected to his sixth term.

“I was in Florida when I got nominated at the caucus (in 2003),” he said. “I talked to my wife about it and I’m glad I did. I was born and raised in Star Prairie.”

Patsy, a New Richmond native, has worked as the Village of Star Prairie clerk since 1995 when she was appointed to the position.

It’s because of that long-time commitment that the Johnsons were selected as grand marshals of Ox Cart Days, said Chris Boardman, Ox Cart Days chairwoman.

“It always nice to honor someone who has been a part of Star Prairie’s history,” she said.

Bruce spent much of his career working for a paper company specializing in aseptic packaging — where paper is printed, laminated and shaped into packaging like juice boxes.

As part of the machine division, Bruce traveled the world to various packaging plants to work on the machines. He said it often was difficult for his family, who was home in Star Prairie while he was away.

“I spent the most time in Japan,” he said. “We even considered moving there.”

The Johnsons said they don’t regret their decision to stay put in Star Prairie.

“No matter where Bruce went he always loved coming back to Star Prairie,” Patsy said.

After 23 years of traveling, Bruce left his job — and that’s when health problems started.

“It started with neuropathy and that was eventually linked to diabetes,” Johnson said. “We finally got that under control, and now I’m fighting cancer.”

Bruce was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer on Aug. 15, 2012, and was given about two months to live unless he started treatment immediately.

“I started an aggressive treatment of chemo and radiation,” he said. “And gave up smoking.”

Most recently Bruce underwent cranial radiation because those with small cell lung cancer have a 70 percent chance of the cancer spreading to the brain, he said.

Doctors are unable to remove the cancer through surgery; however, Bruce said his body has been responding well to the treatment and the cancer is now in remission.

“It will never go away,” he said. “But it’s in remission and my walking and balance seem to be improving.”

Bruce said he hopes to be in even better shape when Ox Cart Days rolls around Aug. 16-18. The grand marshals generally are responsible for attending the queen’s tea, parade, royalty coronation and any other Ox Cart Days activities.

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Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
(715) 243-7767 x243
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