David Johnson died this past Saturday at age 93. It was reported that he’d been suffering from an undisclosed illness.
Johnson was one of three founders of Polaris Industries of Roseau, Minn., along with brothers-in-law Edgar and Allen Hetteen.
Johnson is widely credited as the one who build the first Polaris snowmobile in 1955.
He was a remarkable man who left indelible tracks for the company and the sport of snowmobiling.
It’s not a stretch to say that, were in not for Johnson building that first Polaris snowmobile in 1955, that Edgar Hetteen (who famously admitted that he considered that first machine a silly waste of time) might never have left Polaris to start Arctic Cat.
I met David a few times over the past quarter-century. And every time I talked with him, I was struck by his grace and humbleness. Johnson might have played the single most crucial role in the launch of what would become a great company, but you would never have known it by talking to him. He never grew bigger than his home of Roseau.
The world is a better place today because of David Johnson.
Thank you, David. Peace to you, your family and for all of those who are celebrating your life.
David Johnson (right) along with Edgar (middle) and Allen Hetteen, founders of Polaris Industries.