Like several other shelter volunteers, Lyle Johnson is a biker. “I always bike over to the Garden,” he said. “It’s only three or four miles from my house.”
Unlike most of the volunteers, however, Lyle has a family history with ties to Wirth Park and the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. “My parents had worked at a camp near the Garden in the mid-1920s for disadvantaged kids," he said. “It was a fresh-air camp run by the Nurses' Association, and the staff were all women except for my dad who handled waterfront and recreation. My parents knew both Theodore Wirth and Eloise Butler.”
Lyle has vivid memories of the Garden in winter. “When I was in high school my family lived on Washburn Avenue South," he said, “and throughout those years I often went cross-country skiing in this area. So, when it came to volunteering, I had a natural affinity for this place.”
Lyle’s volunteer work at the Garden began in 1993. “I retired that year", he said, “and someone over at Minnehaha Park told me about opportunity at Eloise.”
Besides volunteering in the shelter, Lyle is vice-president of Friends of the Wild Flower Garden. He holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota and was a professor of Social Work for 20 years in the Graduate School of Social Work at George Williams College in Downers Grove, Illinois. After retiring from George Williams he worked for the State of Minnesota in Adolescent Services where he developed SELF (Support Emancipation and Living Functionally), which became a successful national program to prepare foster children for independent living.
Lyle is married has three adult sons and two granddaughters.
Note 1: Article by newsletter editor Lisa Locken.
Note 2: This article was published in the Friends newsletter the Fringed Gentian™ Winter 2001 Vol. 49 #1.
Lyle joined the Friends Board in May 1999, was elected Vice-President the same year and served in that role until May 2003. He then served on the Money-Management committee and remained on the Board through May 2009.