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John Leslie Johnson Jr.

1929 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
John Leslie Johnson Jr. Obituary
Johnson, John Leslie Jr.
Colonel (Ret), John Leslie Johnson Jr. (PeeWee), 86 of Chandler and Mesa, passed peacefully from this life to be reunited with his loved ones on Friday, July 15, 2016. John was born October 30, 1929 to John Leslie Johnson Sr. and Eloise (Rodgers). He grew up in Chandler and was proud of his Arizona heritage. He was preceded in death by his wife of 46 yrs. Bessie (Magnussen), infant son Ricky, parents and a sister Estelle (Cameron). After graduating from Chandler High School in 1947 he joined the army. Upon his discharge he enlisted in the Arizona National Guard. He married Bessie on Christmas Eve 1949 and with their growing family John worked for both Valley National Bank and the US Postal Service as a mail carrier. He continued his advancement with the Arizona National Guard and in 1955 he began working for them fulltime when he was promoted to Captain as the Staff Administrative Assistant for the 480th Field Artillery Battalion in Mesa. He was promoted to Major in July 1964 and in 1967 he was assigned as Battalion Commander. In 1968 he was assigned as State G3, Operations and Training Officer, in July of that year he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. In September of 1971 he was promoted to a Colonel as the Deputy Commander of the 258th MP Brigade. He was 41 years old. In 1976 he was assigned as Commander of the 153rd Field Artillery Brigade until 1987 when he took over the Command of the Navajo Army Depot in Belmont, AZ during the transition from the Federal Government to the State of Arizona. He remained in control of the depot until his retirement in 1984. During his 37 years of service to both the State of Arizona and the Arizona National Guard, he received many recognitions and accolades for his numerous contributions to the organizations he was involved with. During the years of his retirement he cared for his wife Bessie until her passing in 1995. He kept himself busy as the director of the Arizona Military Museum and his involvement with the Arizona Bushmasters. He also volunteered with the city of Chandler and Town of Gilbert Historical Museums. The last few years he enjoyed the companionship of Janet Freuler, they shared common interests including, workingon museum projects and traveling together. John's family has many fond memories of the various armories, Fort Huachuca, summer camps and the firing ranges in addition to the exciting happenings on the Navajo Depot in Belmont. PeeWee is survived by his partner, Janet Freuler; daughters: Debbie Montgomery (Robert), Dyan Wellons (Ric), Jacque Combs (Dave), Corky Stone (KC), and son Robert Johnson; 16 grandchildren and 42 great grandchildren. A viewing will be held on Tuesday, July 19th from 6-8 pm at Meldrum Mortuary, 52 North Macdonald in Mesa. The funeral service will be Wednesday, July 20th at 10:00 am, also at Meldrum Mortuary. Burial will follow at City of Mesa Cemetery
Published in The Arizona Republic on July 17, 2016
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