Clayton "C.J." Johnson, 73, Minot, longtime owner of Bray's Cleaners in Minot, died Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, at his home surrounded by his loving family
Clayton was born Sept. 28, 1938, in Westhope, the son of R. F. and Catherine (McLachlan) Johnson. He was reared and educated in Maxbass, graduating from Maxbass High School in 1956. While in high school, he was a member of a band, called the Four Deuces, playing the trumpet.
He attended Minot State College until enlisting in the Army, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C. He was a paratrooper and completed over 40 jumps including in Alaska, Japan, Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines and Vietnam. Later in life he made a jump in Glenburn, with his family there. He also was the general's bugler, playing revile, taps, and was in the drum and bugle corps. He was honorably discharged in June of 1961.
He moved back to the Maxbass area, where he worked for his father at the Dunning Elevator and went back to school at Minot State, where he was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
On Oct. 27, 1962, in Newburg, he married Carol Beth Hunskor. He continued to work at the elevator in Dunning until 1967, when they moved to Bismarck and he started his career in dry cleaning. He started working for the J. Kohnstamm Co., selling dry cleaning supplies. He was a member of the Million Dollar Sales Club working for them.
In 1975, the family moved to Minot, where he purchased Minot Steam Laundry from Theo Meyer. He expanded in 1978, buying Bray's Cleaners south and later in 1981, Bray's drive thru. Eventually he moved the main operation to the Bray's drive thru and sold the Minot Steam Laundry building. At one time they had four locations, including Bray's Cleaners Oak Park and Bray's Cleaners North. He closed the business in 2006.
He then went to work setting up a dry cleaners in Fargo for Brennans. After he completed that, he traveled the western part of North Dakota, fixing dry cleaning and laundry equipment, which he did until February of this year.
Clayton was proud to have the Minot Air Force Base dry cleaning account for over 30 years. While owning the dry cleaners, he fixed all the equipment himself and could fix anything. Clayton loved his employees and treated them like family. He always made sure they were taken care of. Clayton was a member of the North Dakota Dry Cleaners Association and served as its president, and was a member of the Elks, the Eagles Aerie, the American Legion, the Minot Country Club and the Rotary Club.
Clayton loved the outdoors. He loved to hunt and fish, organizing deer hunting trips for over 40 years to the Badlands and making sure if it was a grandson's first hunt, you were outfitted from head to toe. He built a cabin on Lake Sakakawea and spent just about every weekend there. He had many friends at the lake. He organized fishing trips to Canada every year.
Clayton is survived by: his wife, Carol, Minot; son, Troy Johnson, Minot; daughter, Deanne Johnson, Minot; grandchildren, Stephanie (Milo) Velimirovich, Layne (girlfriend Laura Wallace) Johnson, Brandon McFall, Kole Johnson, Arieal Johnson, Branden Thorson and Austin Haider; great-grandchildren, Ethan Johnson, Jordan Kitzman and Mason Velimirovich; sisters, Helen Johnson, Minot, and Virginia Christianson, Minot; nieces and nephews, Jayne Routledge, Trent Christianson, Kurt Christianson, Shane Johnson, Clara Johnson, Derek Johnson and Brent Johnson. He was also survived by several cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Marvin; brother-in-law, Ralph Christianson; and two nephews, Sherman and Sidney.
Funeral: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, at 1 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, Minot.
Burial: Sunset Memorial Gardens, Minot.
Vigil prayer service: Monday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. at Thompson-Larson Funeral Home, Minot.
Visitation: Monday, from noon until 7 p.m., at the Thompson-Larson Funeral Home, Minot.
Those wishing to sign the online register and share memories may access the online obituaries section at (www.thompsonlarson.com).