She found a home in Rosemount
Sharon Johnson moved several times before she arrived in Rosemount as a seventh grader. Now nearly 68, she has a hard time imagining calling anywhere else home.
Johnson fell in love with the city quickly. The friends and neighbors she got to know after she moved in helped her through what she said was a difficult time in her youth. She came to love the small-town, community feel.
"The people who were here were loving and welcoming," she said. "We had two grocery stores in town and you could walk in there every day and feel like you're family."
Johnson moved out of Rosemount once, for about a year. But she couldn't stay away. In 1970, she and her husband built a house on Chinchilla Court. She ran an insurance agency from the house for 17 years. She raised four children there.
"There were 15 kids in my yard every day," she said.
Johnson feels like some of that small-town atmosphere is slipping away as the city looks toward the future. She argued against the demolition of what was once known as the Ratzlaff Service Station, where mechanics once helped her with simple repairs free of charge, to make way for the Waterford Commons development that is meant to be the first step in a larger downtown redevelopment.
Those physical structures are important, Johnson said. They're reminders of Rosemount's roots.
"I know it's going to change, but yet there's got to be something here that draws young kids back," Johnson said.
Those buildings are only part of what makes the community, though, and Johnson has found plenty of other ways to be part of the community. She drove a special education bus for seven years. She's served as an election judge and as part of the city's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon group. As part of that group she helped serve meals last Thursday to the families of soldiers who are deploying for Afghanistan.
Johnson is currently the vice president of the Rosemount Area Seniors. She frequently represents the senior group at city council meetings.
It's a lot to keep up with, but Johnson likes to keep busy. She's got plenty of energy. She's still got a snowmobile and a jet ski parked in her driveway, and she uses both regularly.
"I'm involved because I like to help people, and sitting here isn't doing me any good," Johnson said. "I think you've fulfilled yourself for the day if you've made somebody smile. I smile all the time."
Johnson knows she won't be able to stay in her house forever. She's been making plans to sell. She doesn't know yet where she'll move, but she'd have a hard time moving outside Rosemount. She wants to make sure the young people who move to the city still have that network of support that helped her so much when she was growing up.
"I don't think, if I hadn't moved to Rosemount, I'd be where I am now," Johnson said. "I can never do enough to repay the people, when I was a teenager, that were there for me."
They made her feel at home. And that feeling has never gone away.