Before Big Lake resident Rose Johnson died unexpectedly on July 23, it wasn’t out of the ordinary to hear Johnson bantering back and forth with teens at the Wave Youth Center.

Johnson was a strong advocate and supporter of The Wave, 

She was a volunteer who was active in writing grants for the center, did research, created project summaries and worked closely with youth.

When it came to the youth, she enjoyed engaging in a game of Yahtzee, or a competitive game of Risk.

“With the kids, Rose would share games as well as great conversations, said Molly Schroeder, president and founder of The Wave Youth Center.

Now a memorial fund will keep Rose Johnson’s memory alive among the youth at The Wave.

A group of long-distance and life-long friends have established The Rose Johnson Memorial Fund that will support The Wave Youth Center into the future.

Rose Johnson belonged to a group of 40-50 women who first met online about 20 years ago while the women were struggling to have children.

They remained extremely close all these years and formed what they consider a meaningful sisterhood.

“When Rose died, we were all shocked,” said Karen Berstein, one of those longtime friends who resides in Houston, Texas.

Members of the group held an emergency Zoom meeting. During the meeting, the women wanted to do something to honor Rose Johnson. They were called to action.

The group reached out to Rose Johnson’s daughter Sarah, who remember her mother mentioning volunteer work at The Wave. The women’s group contacted The Wave’s Molly Schroeder, who identified a need for a game table, Bernstein recalled. Members were polled, approval for a table was granted, and a budget set.

A game table arrived at the youth center on Friday, Sept. 4. The Rose Johnson Memorial Fund was born out of the effort to obtain the game table.

While The Rose Johnson Memorial Fund will help support The Wave going forward, doing so will be bittersweet, Molly Schroeder said.

“We’d all rather have Rose there playing with the kids at the table,” Schroeder said.

Those wanting to support The Wave through the Rose Johnson Memorial Fund can continue to do so on the Rose Johnson Memorial Fund page at The link to the fund page can be found online at:

Reach Jeff Hage at


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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