Karlstad native Lonni Whitchurch has published a book of poetry “Send the Moon,” through the University of Arizona Poetry Department.
Whitchurch, perhaps better know as Lonnette Johnson to the locals, grew up in Karlstad, graduating in 1969. Her parents were Lionel and Arbutus Johnson; her brother, Danny, owns North Star Auto in Karlstad.
She then attended Bemidji State University, graduating with a degree in English. She taught creative writing and literature at Cass Lake High School for seven years, before moving to Florida in 1987.
The move to Florida brought a change in careers. Teaching salaries weren’t good, so Whitchurch opened a restaurant called “Lonni’s Sandwiches, Etc.”
The recipes were all based on wild rice shipped from back home in Minnesota. Wild rice was used to make the bread for sandwiches and added to the soups and salads as well.
Within seven years, the restaurant had grown to include five locations and employ 40 people. Whitchurch owned the restaurants for 21 years, before selling the chain, and retiring in 2008. She said owning the restaurants was a rewarding and interesting experience.
After retiring, Whitchurch decided it was time to get back to her poetry. “I love writing; it’s always been my life,” she said.
She started going back through her poems and revising them. Then a relative introduced her to the Head of the University of Arizona Poetry Department, Tyler Meier, who encouraged her to get published.
For the rest of the story, see this week’s North Star News!