Melvin Augustus "Swede" Johnson (1914 - 2008)


Melvin (Swede) Augustus Johnson passed away Saturday, June 7, in his sleep. He was born in Ellensburg (Woldale district) on November 24, 1914, to immigrant parents, Anne Marie Digene (Hedalen Valdres, Norway) and John David Johnson (Almered Satila, Sweden).

He graduated from Ellensburg High School in 1933 and spent his entire life in the valley. He was employed in the lumber industry for 37 years; 33 of those years were for Boise Cascade.

He married Lucille Hunt on June 28, 1945. They were life-long members of First Lutheran Church. During their 63 years together they enjoyed many trips throughout the Northwest, especially the Oregon Coast, and Canada. Melvin loved creek fishing (Taneum, Green Canyon, and Salmon la Sac) and in his later years lake fishing at Fish Lake with his niece Linda. He also loved gardening, discussing politics, watching all sports, and raising his farm animals. In later years bird-watching and bird feeding (Audobon Society member) became a favorite past-time.

Though Melvin's formal education ended at high school, he continued to surround himself with books. He loved to acquire and read books, and the importance of education was stressed to his family. He was very proud that all four of his children earned a college degree and that all eight of his grandchildren also graduated from college, with several going on to post-graduate work.

Having lived through the Depression, like many of his generation, he acquired a great work ethic, a sense of frugality, and perseverance, punctuated by honesty and integrity. In spite of his thriftiness, he was very generous with his various charities.

Family was very important to Melvin as witnessed by his strong devotion and responsibility towards them. In addition to his strong relationships with his children and grandchildren, he had an outstanding interest in maintaining contacts with his family members in Norway and Sweden. He also always looked forward to family traditions and events: birthdays, weddings, parades, the Ellensburg Rodeo, and the annual Family Olympics (secretly hoping to win the gold medal in horseshoes or the balloon toss).
He is survived by his wife, Lucille; his four children, Keith (Janet) Johnson (Poulsbo), Anne Bounds (Yakima), Patricia (Robert) Bacon (Vancouver), and Laurie Johnson (Olympia); his eight grandchildren Brett Johnson, Maren Johnson, Jennifer Buster, Kirsten Koetje, Courtney Holbrook, Cari Waldal, Drew Stillman and Bryce Stillman; and nine great-grandchildren. Also surviving are his sisters Della Pedersen (Ellensburg), Elna Johnson (Seattle), and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Charles Johnson.

The family gratefully acknowledges the special care and assistance given Melvin during this last year: Dr. Donald Solberg, Pastor Dennis Hickman, Kristi Zollars, the staff at the Royal Vista, and other close neighbors and friends.

A memorial service celebrating Melvin's life will be held on Thursday, June 12, at 11:00 a.m. at the First Lutheran Church. The family suggests memorials be given to a local charity of your choice. Steward & Williams Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Published in Daily Record from June 9 to June 13, 2008