McCOOL JUNCTION, Nebraska — The letter arrived, promising cash.
It had to be a scam. Stuff like this doesn’t just happen out of nowhere.
Despite her suspicions, McCool Junction Public Schools art teacher and librarian Marcia Clark took the professional-lookingletter to McCool Junction Public Schools Superintendent Curtis Cogswell.
Cogswell called the number on the letterhead to verify that it was legit. It was.
“I filled out the paperwork and sent it to the law firm,” Clark said.“When I received the check in the mail, I could not believe it,” Clark said. “I said to the secretary, ‘Get this in the bank so we know it’s real.’ ”
The check, from the estate of Waldo A. Johnson, was in the amount of $47,933.29. Johnson died in 2017 at age 104.
“This is by far the most exciting thing that has happened to me in my 42 years of teaching,” Clark said.
Waldo Anderson Johnson was born in McCool in 1913, eventually graduating from McCool Junction Public School. Clark and Cogswell found a photo of Johnson in high school, circa 1930s.
Shortly after he graduated from McCoolgraduation, he married Ellen Josephine Wise. They had met on a blind date following a church youth group meeting. That blind date, which led to a 72-year marriage.
In 1940, Waldo and Ellen moved to Portland, Oregon, where Johnson worked for Tektronix. During Johnson’s tenure there — though it is unclear what his duties were — Tektronix, a manufacturer of test and measurement devices, particularly oscilloscopes. (The term “flatlining” refers to an oscilloscope reading.)
The Johnsons adopted a child in 1948, David Stanley Johnson. “Stan” was killed by a drunken driver in 1970 when he was 21.
Johnson retired from Tektronix in 1964, and years later he and Ellen belonged to a travel trailer club.
Perhaps it was that love of travel that brought Johnson and his brother back to McCool for a visit about a decade ago.
They must have liked what they saw.
“I think he was proud to see the small school wasn’t surviving, but thriving,” Cogswell said.
Clark said the gift “will help us operate the library for several years to come.”
Clark said the library’s collection will be able to increase dramatically.
She said she also plans to get an electric fireplace as well as a plaque and framed picture of Johnson to put on the mantel.