Glenn Kenneth Johnson, 79, passed away after a brief illness May 29, 2014, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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Glenn was born in Petaluma, California. He grew up there and graduated from Petaluma High School.
He then began his adventures in traveling with the U.S. Army in the mid '50s, with time spent in the U.S. and Europe. Upon his discharge, he went on to earn a multi-engine pilot's license, attend San Francisco University and later, graduate from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo with a degree in business.
While living in San Francisco, he met his future wife, Nancy, in the guest house on Presidio Heights. The couple married May 15, 1960, in Eugene, Oregon, and settled in the Bay Area. In the next 10 years they lived in Mill Valley, Novato, Paradise, Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo. During that time, Glenn worked in retail management, social services and wrapped up his college education at Cal Poly.
After viewing a slide show of the Chilkoot Pass, the Johnsons decided to hike the trail in 1969. While visiting Juneau, they applied for state employment. By June 1970, the family of five arrived in Fairbanks, where Nancy accepted a position and Glenn took a job at College Inn Grocery.
In the fall, he landed a position as a probation and parole officer at 604 Barnette St., in the office right next door to Nancy's. In 1982, Glenn incorporated his "hobby," microcomputer services, into a full-fledged storefront and founded Computer Express. He owned and operated the store until he retired in 1998.
In his "spare time," he was an ardent supporter of numerous local arts groups and community organizations during his 42 years in Fairbanks. He and Nancy tackled numerous projects for Fairbanks Light Opera Theatre, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, Opera Fairbanks, Rotary Club, Fairbanks Association for Retarded Citizens, Alaska State Association for Retarded Citizens and American Association of University Women (AAUW), to name a few. Glenn held leadership positions in most of these organizations, but was always working behind the scenes, organizing, operating custom databases and providing impeccable desktop publishing services.
The Johnsons also hosted countless dinners, potlucks and concert receptions at their Scenic Heights home.
A lifelong musician, Glenn performed with symphonies, orchestras and bands for 75 years. He began playing the violin at the age of 4 1/2 and in 1939 played in San Francisco at the World's Fair. Playing with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, Arctic Chamber Orchestra and participating in Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and FLOT productions were always priorities for Glenn when he was laying out his signature calendars and planning "off the beaten" path trips. He began playing the tuba in high school and has always enjoyed performing outdoors and playing rousing marches for his son, Keith, with the Fairbanks Community Band.
Glenn was a world-class explorer, trip planner and train lover. His love of travel resulted in trips to more than 50 countries around the world and all but one of our states. Always cheerful and outgoing, he never met a stranger, making friends all over the world.
As fate would have it, Glenn was able to experience another chapter in his life by rediscovering someone from his past. Glenn met Karen in 1955 in Columbus, Georgia, while stationed at Fort Benning. They dated briefly, but fate interrupted when he received orders for a tour in Germany. As time passed, they each married, raised families and built rich, fulfilling lives for themselves over the next 55 years.
Glenn was reminded of Karen when he came across a photo taken when they were dating. He found her again online and decided to call. The rest is history and the new couple was married in May of 2012. They sold both of their houses and settled together in a beautiful home in Albuquerque.
Glenn will be remembered for his one-liners, love of travel, life-long dedication to music, devotion to family, community service, commitment to the unique needs of the handicapped, and enthusiastic spirit of chasing trains.
Glenn was preceded in death by his first wife, Nancy, and his parents, Ken and Lola Johnson, of Petaluma.
He is survived by his wife, Karen; sons, Brian and Keith Johnson, of Fairbanks; son, Grant, and wife, Laura Johnson, of Walnut Creek, California; sister, Bettie Sue, and husband, Milo Marquardt, in Denver, Colorado; nieces, Denise, and husband, Roger Dionne; Melanie, and husband, Ed Westergaard, in the Denver area, and numerous cousins in California.
Memorial services will be held at 1 p.m. June 21 at Central United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, and at 8 p.m. July 14 in Davis Hall at UAF in Fairbanks.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Glenn's name to the Fairbanks Resource Agency, Tanana Valley Special Olympics or the Fairbanks Sunrisers Rotary Club.
Published in Daily News-Miner on June 18, 2014