Gary M. Johnson
1946 - 2020
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Gary M. Johnson

Gary M. Johnson, 73, Arizona native, passed away unexpectedly, June 6, 2020, at his home in Scottsdale. Born on October 13, 1946, he was the first child of Woody and Victoria Johnson, who founded Woody's El Nido in 1946 and the Macayo restaurants in 1952.

Gary grew up in Phoenix, where he attended Orangewood School. He spent his high school freshman year at the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, CA, and graduated from Judson School in 1965. He attended the University of Arizona as a business major before returning home in 1968 to join the family business. Along with his siblings, Stephen and Sharisse, Gary went on to establish Macayo as a household name in Arizona. Macayo expanded to fourteen restaurants throughout the state, and an additional four were established in Las Vegas and co-owned with his cousin and family.

In the 1980s, the Johnson family bought a chile farm in southeastern Arizona and founded Fiesta Canning. Currently owned and operated by the Johnsons, the Fiesta line of Macayo canned and bottled food products continue to be produced from the manufacturing plant in McNeal, AZ. In 2006, Gary started Micasu Land and Cattle, also in McNeal. There, he acquired a line of cattle and also grew alfalfa. In 2018, Gary expanded the family cattle business by constructing a 3,000-head capacity backgrounding yard/feedlot.

When Gary wasn't working, he was an avid outdoorsman. His enjoyment of hunting and fishing could only be matched by his love of sharing his experience with his family and friends outdoors. He treasured teaching his grandchildren to ride, hunt, and fish.

Gary was a man of great integrity with a keen business sense. He was highly respected by employees, customers, and competitors, and he enjoyed a wide circle of friends and family. Gary will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Survivors include his wife of fifty years, Bernadette Johnson; his sons, Troy and Cody and their wives, Jamie and Beth; and stepdaughter, Holly Hammond. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Jordan Hammond and Remie and Gunnar Johnson; his brother, Stephen, sister Sharisse, and their families. Gary will be especially missed by his best friends, J Spencer Weed IV, Peter Erskine, Steve Hahn, Joe Lane, and Ames Thompson.

A celebration of Gary's life will be held in the fall. Anyone who would like to speak with family members may contact Stephany Lane for more information: 602-463-6339. Memorial contributions may be made to the Gary M. Johnson Fund at the Arizona Desert Big Horn Sheep Society, PO Box 21705, Mesa, AZ 85277, or The American Diabetes Association, in memory of Gary M. Johnson, PO Box 7023 Merrifield, VA 22116. Visit for online condolences.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Arizona Republic from Jun. 24 to Jul. 1, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Hansen Desert Hills Mortuary and Memorial Park
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4 entries
June 30, 2020
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
June 29, 2020
I enjoyed working with Gary and learned a lot!
Mack McKeon
June 26, 2020
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
June 26, 2020
I had the pleasure to work for Gary several years ago. I have the fondest of memories for this special man. May he Rest In Peace.
Jean Mays
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