Johnson High School alumni donate bench to the school

The Denissons spent about 100 hours constructing the bench and donated about $4,000 worth of materials. The bench can seat some 20 people and a commemorative plaque will be added next spring. • submitted photo

The Denisson family, which consists of brothers Tim and Corky, at right and middle, and Corky’s son, Kip, constructed the bench this summer. Tim is a part of the 1966 graduating class, Corky graduated from Johnson in 1962 and Kip graduated from Johnson in 1986. • submitted photo

A new stone bench, donated by the Johnson High School class of 1966, was constructed where the former J-shaped flower garden had been in the inner courtyard at Johnson High School. • submitted photo

As a way to mark their 50-year class reunion, members of the Johnson High School class of 1966 wanted to create or donate something to the school. 

They decided on a bench, and not just an ordinary wooden bench, but a big stone “J.”

While such a project can often end up costing thousands of dollars, the class of 1966 happens to have a stonemason’s son amongst its members, who was willing to donate labor and supplies to the cause.

Tim Denisson grew up on the East Side and attended Johnson High School. His father, Pete Denisson, was a well-known stonemason in the neighborhood. Tim was also vice president of the class of ‘66.

While Tim went on to college at the University of Wyoming and became a professional ski-jumper living in Cheyenne, his brother, Corky, carried on the family’s trade on the East Side, and still works part time as a stonemason, as does his son Kip. 

Kip is also a part-time bricklayer for St. Paul Public Schools. 

Both Tim and Corky helped their father with his business as they grew up, so while Tim may not have picked up the trowel professionally, he still knows how to lay a brick. 

Tim ended up designing the bench, which is in the shape of a J and made out of red bricks, signifying Johnson’s school colors.


Have a seat

The two brothers and Kip spent about 100 hours this summer constructing the bench. It’s located in the inner courtyard at Johnson High School. They also donated about $4,000 worth of materials. 

“We’re super happy to have it — it really beautifies and spruces up that inner court,” said Micheal Thompson, principal of Johnson High School. 

The school was under construction this summer, the second phase of a project that included constructing an updated entrance, adding classrooms and administrative space, updating the roof and plumbing and adding other, more modern amenities.

Tim laughed remembering the construction of the bench, explaining that workers on the school roof would often look down and wonder what the two brothers were putting together.

The only thing left is a plaque, which has been ordered and will be attached to the bench this spring. 

Tim said when they wrapped up the project and Thompson saw the bench, he joked that if the school were to fall, the bench would probably be left standing. 

“We’re super proud that alums still want to come back and contribute to Johnson High School. It’s been really great working with the family and that class,” Thompson said.

Tim said he hopes current students who see the bench will think of the “foot tracks we leave behind us.”

“Hopefully it will generate a sense that we are all alumni,” he said, adding that when people use the bench he hopes it will be a relaxing place, bringing to mind a term his father always used: “Be at ease.”


Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at

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