He spent his life as a rancher, logger, dairyman, cattleman, farmer, patriot, and farmer’s advocate. His love of the land and livestock and his responsibility as their steward shaped nearly every day of his life. Earl was a third-generation farmer. His great-grandparents began farming in Cabool, Missouri, on an 80-acre homestead. His parents raised him on a nearby farm, and after Earl married Emily, the love of his life, in 1974, he bought both farms and additional land for a total of 534 acres. Earl then worked this land into a farm of over 1,600 acres in three counties, including three Missouri Century farms.
Earl was educated for eight years in the Ozark County School District and graduated from Cabool High School in 1954. He then attended Missouri State College for two years, where he deepened his passion of economics, history, and mathematics.
Earl was a columnist for the Springfield newspaper for several years, and having strong political views, ran for Congress as a farmer’s advocate.
He and Emily were avid square dancers for several years and were featured in Smithsonian magazine.
He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Emily Gaye (Spencer) Johnson; his son, Philip Durnell; daughters Theresa Wood and Cheryl; three stepchildren, Kathleen Woelfersheim, Connie Colton and Daniel Johnson; and many grandchildren.
Services were held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, July 18, 2016, at the funeral chapel with Rev. Terry Brown officiating. Pallbearers were A.J. Aldridge, B.J. Aldridge, Nathaniel Johnson, Christopher Johnson, Mark Evans and Mike Evans. Interment was in Cabool Cemetery under the direction of Elliott-Gentry-Carder Funeral Home of Cabool. Online condolences may be made at www.egcfuneralhome.com.