Bradley Clark Johnson, 55, died unexpectedly on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, of a heart attack.
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Brad, son of Francis and Madge (Kiloran) Johnson, was born Jan. 18, 1957, an extremely cold day in the dead of winter. His arrival was a great surprise, following 20 years behind his only brother Tim.
Brad lived in the Gallatin Valley his entire life, originally at the Bridger Club in Bear Canyon and then on his parents' ranchette west of Belgrade. Brad always said he had an ideal childhood because his parents were retired and were able to spend quality time with him camping.
Brad graduated from Belgrade High School in 1975. He attended MSU and received his bachelor's and master's degrees in secondary education – industrial arts. Although he never taught in a classroom, Brad was a true teacher at heart, sharing his knowledge with all.
Brad volunteered for the positions of firefighter, deputy chief, and chief for Belgrade Fire for 21 years, retiring Dec. 31, 1999. He continued to volunteer his time and energy for the department by assisting with the annual breakfast and feeding volunteer recruits.
Brad met his first wife, Jackie Keery Lemon while she was volunteering at Belgrade Fire. They had a firefighter wedding at Belgrade Community Church and Belgrade Fire on Aug. 28, 1982. They welcomed their only child, Stephanie on Jan. 19, 1986. Divorcing amicably in 1988, Brad used to joke that his marriage went up in the "flames of '88." Brad was a very proud and involved single father. Stephanie was the light of his life.
Brad ran the workshop at Reach, Inc. for 10 years before becoming a Quality Assurance Specialist with the State of Montana, DPHHS Developmentally Disabled Program, a position he held for more than 20 years. In his spare time, Brad was an instructor for American Red Cross and MANDT.
Brad met "the love of his life," Donette (Walstad) Johnson in October 2002 through Donette's sister, Suzette, with whom Brad had a working relationship. They courted via letters, phone calls and visits for nearly three years before marrying on July 4, 2005, in a beautiful outdoor ceremony in Sidney, Mont.
Brad's relationship with God was an integral part of his being. Brad was very involved with the Belgrade Community Church, which he had attended since he was four years old. His journey of faith had a rough beginning, getting kicked out of Sunday school by his mother at the age of five; however, it blossomed into something beautiful. At age 18, he became the youngest Sunday school superintendent, a position he was very proud of. During college Brad went on a spiritual mission to Kenya, Africa, through Campus Crusade. He taught many adult Bible study courses, and served on the church council as moderator and trustee.
He is survived by his wife, Donette; his daughter, Stephanie Johnson; his step-daughters, Lisa (Alex) George, Sarah Morales, and Bethany Dopp (Matt Schatzke); his four grandchildren, Tree, Kenya and Elijah George, and Keleigh Morales, with whom he had a very special bond; his sister-in-law, Judy Johnson; and his niece, Janelle Johnson.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Francis and Madge, and his brother, Tim.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 at Belgrade Community Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Belgrade Community Church Save Our Steeple (S.O.S.) Fund, 119 S. Broadway, Belgrade, MT 59714.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, www.dokkennelson.com.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Dec. 25, 2012