Woman killed, husband hospitalized after Williams Bay fire

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staff, Gazette
Friday, February 8, 2013

— A Williams Bay woman died and her husband was injured in a Thursday night fire that destroyed their home, authorities and friends said.

Firefighters were dispatched to 83 Lackey Drive at 8:21 p.m. Thursday and found the older, two-story home largely engulfed in flames, Williams Bay Police Chief Robert Pruessing said.

Two firefighters who live near the fire had arrived before police and went inside to look for occupants, Pruessing said.

“They did succeed in managing to assist in the removal of a male subject from the home,” Pruessing said. “They were unsuccessful in re-entering the house for the second person.”

Pruessing declined to identify the victims, but neighbors and friends identified the deceased as Sally Johnson, 70, and her husband as John “Al” Johnson, 75, who was being treated Friday at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville.

The fire’s cause remained under investigation Friday but is not considered suspicious, Pruessing said.

The Rev. Jeanette Strandjord, pastor of Williams Bay Lutheran Church, described Sally Johnson as energetic, outgoing and loving.

“She loved being a grandma and loved her family,” Strandjord said.

She said Sally Johnson recently retired as a nurse at the Mercy Walworth Hospital and Medical Center.

“It is a terrible loss to the whole community and certainly to our congregation,” Strandjord said.

Jo Ann Hobbs knew Sally Johnson for more than 45 years.

“The last time we were together, we were working in the kitchen in the church, and she was so full of life,” Hobbs said.

“Some things just shouldn't be,” Hobbs said. “Everyone acknowledges that Sally had a very strong faith, and that is a good thing to remember at a time when it’s impossible to imagine.”

Hobbs said Sally Johnson grew up in Williams Bay, where her father was a teacher and where she worked as a carhop as a young woman.

“She was compassionate, loving, caring and very energetic about helping people,” Hobbs said. “She was the kind of person who when she wanted to tell you something that was happy, she would give you a hug.”

Pruessing said fire investigators returned to the scene Friday morning.

“We’re still waiting to hear from them about the outcome of their findings,” Pruessing said.

He declined to say where in the house the occupants were found.

Walworth County Deputy Coroner Ron Wilson said an autopsy is scheduled Saturday

Last updated: 8:12 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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