By Sean Miner
On May 2, Marvin Johnson, mayor of Independence, turns 80 years old.
It certainly wasn’t Marvin’s idea, but a public birthday party will be held in his honor on that same night at Village Free Church.
“I told Marvin that his siblings were going to throw him a birthday party,” said Bryan Johnson, one of Marvin’s seven younger siblings, who is chiefly organizing the event. “I did not ask him because I knew he would have said ‘no’ to any attention to himself.”
According to the younger Johnson, Marvin has not had much in the way of birthday parties for a number of years. But, that doesn’t mean that his contributions, to the Independence community and elsewhere, shouldn’t be recognized.
“He does so many things, for so many different people,” said Bryan Johnson. “It’s time to recognize him for that.”
Bryan reported that Marvin initially tried to talk him out of the idea, but “more recently he’s kind of submitted to it.” This submission included Marvin giving Bryan a copy of his resume, which included some 37 different capacities in which Marvin is or has been involved in the community.
The younger Johnson said that he wasn’t even aware of half of them.
In large part through these efforts, Marvin has become, as Bryan put it, “very well-connected.” Anyone who has been part of one of those connections is welcome to attend the party on May 2.
The party will run from 6 to 9 p.m., with a short program at 7:15 p.m. Refreshments will be served and cards are welcome, but attendees should not bring gifts.
The program will consist of several speakers, the full roster of which is yet to be finalized. Each speaker will have five minutes to pay tribute to Johnson, among them being West Hennepin Public Safety Director Ray McCoy, recently retired area senator and Johnson family friend Jim Olson, and Norm Wenck of the Independence City Council.
Given Marvin’s extensive connections in the community and state at large, Bryan said that he wasn’t sure how many people will attend the event. He said that he was planning on at least 300 people attending, but thinks that number could easily be more.
Preparation is well underway. Bryan reported that some 40 pounds of nuts have been purchased, and that he had ordered eight large sheet cakes for the evening.
All eight of the Johnson siblings will be in attendance, some from as far out as Tennessee and Ohio. Some of the family members that live in or closer to Independence have pitched in for the party, including a nephew who is putting together a slideshow. Many more will be helping the night of the party.
“The siblings are looking forward to it,” said Bryan Johnson.
He recalled that their father, when asked how many children he had, would answer, “two and a half dozen.” This was his way of referring to his two daughters and half dozen sons, of which Marvin is the oldest and Bryan is the second youngest.
19 years separate the two brothers, but they live within a mile of each other. Bryan reported that Marvin has lived at the Johnson family farm for his entire life, aside from his service in the military. The Johnson homestead, according to Bryan, is the second oldest in Independence.
“When we grew up on the farm our birthday consisted of an angel food birthday cake and a day of no chores,” the younger Johnson said.
The extensive event he and the other Johnson siblings are throwing Marvin is sure to be in stark contrast to his earlier birthdays.
If you know Marvin (you probably do), stop by Village Free Church on May 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. to wish him a happy birthday.
By Sean Miner