Ellwood Gerd Johnson, age 89, died on March 2, 2014 at his home in Everson. The youngest of five children, Ellwood was born November 4, 1924, in a logging camp in the Bitterroot Mountains near McCall, Idaho, to parents Orlando and Hilkea (Jenssen) Johnson. When Ellwood was a young child the family moved to Boise, Idaho, where he went to school through 9th grade. He recalled reading at the Boise Library and playing in irrigation ditches to keep busy during the Depression. In 1939 the family moved to Seattle, WA, and he attended Queen Anne High School. Ellwood left school without graduating to serve in the Air Force in Asia during World War II. Upon returning home he received his GED at age 21 and went to the University of Washington on the GI Bill. Ellwood married Barbara Schear in 1953 and he taught high school English in San Jose, CA, where their first daughter Wendy Jo was born, and Seattle, where their twin girls Helen Hilkea and Karen Kristina were born. Ellwood pursued his Master's and PhD degrees in American Literature at University of Washington. In 1963 Ellwood, Barbara and their three young daughters moved to Bellingham. He was a professor at Western Washington State College (later W. Wash. University) in Bellingham for 30 years until his retirement in 1992. Ellwood's wife Barbara died in 1970. In 1983 Ellwood married Diane Ostrom Kesinger and became a step-dad of two boys, Jake and Nick. Ellwood and Diane had a third son Michael in 1984. They lived in Bellingham before settling in Everson, WA, where Ellwood lived out his retirement. Ellwood loved reading literature & poetry, writing, and gardening. He was an accomplished scholar, and could speak wittily about various subjects well into old age. Ellwood was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, two sisters, and his first wife Barbara Schear Johnson. He is survived by his wife Diane Johnson, daughters Wendy Johnson of Oakland, CA, Helen Johnson of Portland, OR, Karen (Joe) Holtrop of Sequim WA, son Michael Johnson of Cheney, WA, three grandchildren Kristina Holtrop, Hilary Holtrop and Erik Holtrop, two step-sons Jacob Kesinger and Nick (Billyjeanetta) Kesinger, a step-grandchild Gabriella Kesinger, and many nieces and nephews.
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Published in Bellingham Herald on Mar. 9, 2014