LeRoy Joel Johnson, 89, of Phoenix, Ore., passed away December 22, 2012. He was born to Emma and Martin Johnson January 11, 1923, in Osakis, Minn. He left his home at age 15 to work on various farms in Minnesota. LeRoy married the love of his life, Gladys (Vigness) Johnson October 21, 1944, in Bottineau, N.D., shortly before serving his country and fighting heroically in WWII.
After returning from WWII the couple lived in North Dakota and had two sons, Lyle and Vernon. The family went on an adventure and moved to Alaska in April of 1953. They planned to live in Alaska for only three years but stayed for 35 years. LeRoy initially worked as a heavy-equipment mechanic at the Jonesville Coal Mine in Sutton, Alaska. He later worked for several other companies, including Reynolds, as a heavy-equipment mechanic until his retirement in 1987. He was inducted into the Jonesville Coal Mine Hall of Fame April 29, 2006.
During their early retirement years, Gladys and LeRoy traveled by motorhome bus up and down the Alaska-Canada (AL-CAN) highway many, many times. They were snowbirds who generally spent their summers in Alaska and winters in Seattle and Arizona. They permanently moved to the Medford area in the early 1990s.
LeRoy was very proud of his Norwegian heritage. He had several hobbies including growing fresh vegetables in his backyard garden box. Among other things, he grew tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, rutabaga, and squash, which he often shared with neighbors. He was also highly regarded by his family as a talented woodworker who spent many hours in his woodshop creating both beautiful and useful objects.
LeRoy was a devoted and loving husband, father, and grandfather. He will be missed dearly, especially by his wife Gladys with whom he recently celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. Their love is an inspiration for the entire family. He is survived by his brother, Paul Johnson of Sutton, Alaska; Erma Kickertz of Osakis, Minn.; wife, Gladys Johnson of Phoenix, Ore.; son, Lyle Johnson of Seward, Alaska; son, Vernon Johnson of Anchorage, Alaska; granddaughter, Amanda Shearer and her husband Nathan of Eagle River, Alaska; grandson, LeRoy Johnson and his wife Sandi of Anchorage, Alaska; and four great-grandchildren, Novalie and Lyle Johnson and Jonah and Elias Eli Shearer.
Rest in peace Grandpa, we love you and miss you!