Sherman Albert Johnson (1957 - 2016)

Obituary
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Sherman Albert Johnson was born January 25, 1957, to Delmar and Betsy Johnson in El Paso, Texas. It was there that he peacefully passed away on October 10, 2016 while visiting family and friends and attending his high school reunion. He graduated from El Paso High School in 1974 and with the goal of putting together his old Harley 45 Flathead motorcycle, plus being told by his mother that "he didn't know how to do anything", Sherman decided to head off to Texas State Technical College in Waco, Texas, where he graduated with a two-year Associate's degree in welding technology. He worked several jobs in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma before he made his big move to Juneau in 1984.

He went to work for a local welding shop where his new boss educated the clueless young Texan about frozen puddles, freezing rain and other subtleties of welding, life, and work in the Far North. Back in Texas, welders would draw a 5 foot diameter circle and if five drops of rain fell in it, they'd call it a day. Another thing to relearn in this beautiful country. Despite the weather and additional clothing to acquire, Sherman's welding and fabrication skills and work ethic soon led to the start of his own business, Acme Welding. His pride of ownership, honesty and intensive drive for excellence kept his business and reputation growing – the quality of his work was unequaled and in such demand there were times he had to turn work down or put it on the "to do" list.

Customers kept him busy with welding and fabricating on fishing boats and a myriad of jobs for AEL&P including extended projects at Snettisham hydroelectric project. He welded the structure and pipe for another hydro project in Haines, fixed boilers at a cold storage in Petersburg, cut holes in the sides of seiners, fixed the kids' bicycles – the list goes on. Every project consumed his sharp mind and he relished the mathematics of the planning. Sherman also loved the challenge of artistic projects which include sets and costumes for theatrical events, a large outdoor kelp sculpture at the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward, and most recently several displays for the new State Libraries, Archives and Museum (SLAM). Sherman rarely said no to anyone, taking on jobs big and small, approaching business as he did life with unrelenting enthusiasm.

Many friends know of Sherman's passion for motorcycles which really started at age 12 when his father gave him a mini-bike. He had fond memories of riding with his friends many miles across the West Texas desert outside of El Paso. He was hooked and moved on to a Hodaka Super Rat, his Harley 45 Flathead, the beautifully-restored Panhead, and his infamous BMW. Unfortunately, an encounter with a bear on his regular early-morning ride out past Eagle Beach led to the demise of this beloved BMW and four months of recovery from injuries. He was actively looking for another BMW to continue those and much longer rides.

He enjoyed competing in motorcycle rodeos and his expertise won him trophies in Juneau and the Yukon- the slow ride was his favorite. But Sherman's prowess could be exhibited in many other genres. Sure he could talk "panheads" but just as easily discuss American history, gun-smithing or give you a jaw-dropping detailed back story of the life of one of his favorite Blues or Rock and Roll artists. The gift of gab, large smile, and that immediate Texas charm could start a conversation with anyone, anywhere, anytime, always walking away with a new and life-long friend. Sherman's energy for hard work was also a source of great pride, but it never took precedence to family and friendships. He was quoted humbly in a recent Empire article : "I fix stuff and make things". His friends all know he was so much more, always available to share his vast knowledge. Big hugs and emotional support, an ear for listening, a sharing heart for someone's pain or joy were never denied. His infectious laugh and charm just made you smile and could change the air in a room. He truly practiced the voice of Maya Angelou who said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." He shared and received joy and happiness.

Sherman changed his life when, with encouragement from an old friend in Texas and support from fellowship, he stepped away from drinking into sobriety in April of 2009. This decision let him to a powerful commitment to pursue a higher standard of life and relationships with both old and new friends. He became a mentor and positive influence for people in their sobriety and life choices. The Serenity Prayer guided his life:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

He met the love of this life, Linda in 1984 while visiting Austin, Texas, and after chasing her from Port Alexander, Alaska to Fiji and points between, surrendered to what he already knew and they were married in 1997 in Ketchikan. He was proceeded in death by his mother and father, and is survived by his wife Linda Hoven, sister Jenna and niece Maggie Johnson in El Paso, sweet dog Delilah, six other nieces and nephews, and a boundless multitude of friends.

A celebration of life will be held at 3:00 pm, November 20th at the Juneau Yacht Club. Friends are urged to come and share pictures, a special memory or a story or two. Bring a favorite dish or dessert if you want and share lots of love for a life well-lived but all too short. Any memorials given in Sherman's honor can be addressed to or to Juneau's KTOO public radio.
Published in The Juneau Empire from Nov. 4 to Dec. 4, 2016
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