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1961 Rurik 2023

Rurik John Johnson

March 25, 1961 — August 13, 2023

In Loving Memory of Rurik John Johnson 

Rurik John Johnson (62) of Minnetonka, Minnesota passed away unexpectedly on August 13, 2023. Peace is with those he left behind knowing he was doing some of his favorite things: vacationing in Colorado, visiting Gem/Rock shows, art galleries, dinosaur and other natural history museums and visiting relatives. 

Born March 25, 1961 in Granite Falls, MN, he was the first born of Curtis E. and Mary B. (Gunelson) Johnson. Rurik became the older brother to a brother, Bjorn (born 1965, died 2010), and sister, Rannveig (born 1966).   

Rurik spent his early years in Renville and Albert Lee, MN. In 1965, the family moved to Roseville, MN where he graduated from Alexander Ramsey High School in 1979. 

In elementary school he was active in the Boy Scouts and started playing the piano and cello. In junior high he added swimming, forensics and a newspaper route to his list of activities. In high school his activities also included working at his parents’ gift shop, and the debate team.  

Throughout his school years and several years after, Rurik was an active member of St. Timothy Lutheran Church. While growing up, he went to Sunday school, was in the choir, the hand bell choir, and participated in many of the youth activities and trips. After graduating high school and while attending college, Rurik was the handbell choir director and helped chaperone the youth trips. 

Rurik attended Augsburg College of Minneapolis for two years. While there he was part of the Augsburg Orchestra. He then transferred to the University of Minnesota where he earned BA degrees in Geology and Geophysics. When he was younger, the scenery observed during annual family camping trips and car trips to Burr Oak, IA and Ouray, CO had a great influence on Rurik. His grandfather, who was a Mining Engineer, often gave Rurik various minerals and rocks, helping to spark Rurik’s interest that led him to pursue those degrees.  

Upon graduating and not finding the dream job with his degrees, Rurik went back to school attending the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to earn education credits for secondary earth science and math certification. After earning his teaching certification in 1991, he taught high school math in Whitefish Bay, WI for one year. Rurik then moved backed to Minnesota where he taught earth science and math at Plymouth Middle School, in Plymouth, MN up until the time of his death.  

Rurik was involved in various national teacher organizations, such as NASA for Educators, National Science Teachers Association, and American Geological Society. 

Before his brother’s (Bjorn) death in 2010, Rurik and Bjorn were travel buddies. Together they took numerous trips out west to visit family and see the country, and to southeastern Wisconsin to visit their sisters’ (Rannveig) family. Over the past decade, he tried to plan an annual trip out west for a continuing education workshop or a conference by one of his teacher organizations. Afterwards, he would drive and visit science and dinosaur museums, art galleries and relatives before returning home.  

The workshops and training he had been doing the past several years led him up to where he started to design and create short educational virtual field trips. The virtual field trips are aimed at middle school students and teachers to help them learn about a given topic in a variety of ways. Rurik completed one virtual field trip titled “Walk Across The Mighty Mississippi” ( and had a second virtual field trip under development at the time of his death. His teammates at Inifiniscope ( agreed to complete it in Rurik’s honor.  

Rurik is preceded in death by his brother Bjorn and both sets of Grandparents, John O. and Bessie E. (Gates) Johnson and Adolph G and Evelyn T. (Burchedean) Gunelson) He is survived by both parents Curtis E. and Mary B. (Gunelson) Johnson, his sister Rannveig (Dennis) Polinski, two nieces he adored, Ingrid (Brad) Groth and Greta Polinski, along with many other relatives and friends. 

Just as Rurik would, the family extends immense gratitude to Tammy and John Fedel (cousin and husband), Rob Franz (cousin), the Ouray, CO emergency department and Crippin Funeral Home in Montrose, CO. They all were very extremely helpful in getting Rurik back to Minnesota after his death. 

On Saturday, October 14, 1:00 pm (visitation 12:00) 

 A Celebration of Life Service will be at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, 

 1465 North Victoria Street, St. Paul, MN 55117 Refreshments will follow 



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