Weather Forecast


Celebrated violinist surprises Minnesota man on 100th birthday

Woodbury, Minn., resident Lloyd Johnson, left, celebrated his 100th birthday Wednesday, with a surprise guest — violinist Peter Ostroushko. (Mike Longaecker / Forum News Service )

WOODBURY, Minn. —Lloyd Johnson spends his Wednesday afternoons shooting pool with friends.

He broke from the routine this week and got the surprise of a lifetime – not an easy task, considering he spent the afternoon celebrating his 100th birthday.

During the event, Johnson — a longtime fiddler — was visited by celebrated Minnesota violinist Peter Ostroushko. Staff at Stonecrest Senior Living invited Ostroushko to the event after Renee Vaughan learned that playing alongside the “A Prairie Home Companion” regular was a dream of Johnson’s.

When that dream came true Wednesday, Johnson called it “wonderful.”

“I can’t believe it,” he said. “Pinch me.”

Johnson has long been an Ostroushko fan and met him nine years ago in St. Paul. Ever since, Johnson has kept a photo picturing him and Ostroushko on his bedroom wall.

“I’ve never been so honored in all my life,” Johnson said after playing with Ostroushko.

The appearance occurred just as Johnson was about to perform songs during his 100th birthday party. Vaughan appealed to the crowd, claiming the group’s backup fiddler wasn’t able to make it.

“If there’s anybody out there that knows how to play fiddle and that might be able to give us a hand, it would be greatly appreciated,” she said.

Enter Ostroushko.

Johnson flashed a wide grin as Ostroushko, who has performed with Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra — as well as Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris — stepped to the stage. He then joined in on several songs with Johnson and the band, which included Johnson’s wife, Maxine, on piano and vocals.

The surprise on Johnson’s face was genuine.

“I can’t believe it,” he said afterward. “You could knock me over with a shovel.”

Ostroushko said he received an invitation to play at the event through Vaughan and Johnson’s son Joey Johnson. When Lloyd Johnson was described to Ostroushko, the violinist immediately remembered meeting him years ago in St. Paul.

Attending the event, he said, took no convincing.

“It’s a rare moment that you get to celebrate someone else’s existence in such a way,” Ostroushko said.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

(715) 426-1072