Leland Taylor Johnson Jr.
August 7, 1932 - September 18, 2014
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Leland Taylor Johnson, Jr. Our beloved one died rather suddenly, September 18, 2014 in the company of those he loved deeply and who had given so much meaning to his life. Born in Port Chester, New York, August 7, 1932, Lee graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, with an interlude for service with the US Army in Germany during the Cold War years. Upon his return and as he entered law school, he made the wisest and most fulfilling decision of his life, marrying Jo, who was willing to wait for him during the Army years. From this union of 58 years, the couple was blessed with three incredibly devoted daughters, sons-in-law and their children; the bonds among all of whom were enduring. Following a period of general law practice in the District of Columbia, the family moved in 1974 to Olympia where Lee accepted a position with the Office of the Attorney General, continuing there until his retirement as a senior assistant attorney general in 2000. His continual hope was that his practice of law would reflect his gratitude for the possibilities that the profession presented the attorney. He delighted in his down-to-earth relationships with clients, other counsel, but in particular, during his service with the Attorney General, the privilege of working with incredibly talented, younger attorneys, witnessing their achievements in the promotion of the greater good. He was among the recipients of the Attorney General's "Steward of Justice" award. In his earlier years in private practice, he was stimulated by his pro bono work in both the civil and criminal defense arenas on behalf of those in need. His had a life-long commitment to the Church (capital and small "c"), although he came to it in young adulthood. He was something of an "outlier", subscribing fully to the premise that the mission of the institution ultimately lies beyond the walls of the edifice in which one might formally worship. There were deeply meaningful memories drawn from the earlier year of his work in establishing an interfaith organization of faith communities in the Northern Virginia area and participation in the organization of events during the Civil Rights era, including the Poor People's March on Washington. In Olympia, as a member of the United Churches, he was active during the formative years of the Associated Ministries of Thurston County (later to become Interfaith Works). Outreach to the homeless and less privileged was a continuing and compelling passion for him and he hoped that along with certain others in the community, whose efforts he admired and felt surpassed his own, all could serve as catalysts in the common cause. Lee was an avid reader, particularly in the areas of American and English history, and was occasionally teased for short-changing fiction - a charge to which he would have pleaded guilty but respect to which he eventually sought to repent. His love of baseball approached addiction, but he delighted, along with his beloved brother, Frank, in regaling any willing to listen about the glory years in the Bronx and Brooklyn in the 1940s and 50s. In his own playing years, he was "good field, but no hit". Lee was preceded in death by his parents, Leland and Francine Johnson; and son-in-law Ken; and survived by his beloved wife, Jo; brother, Frank; and by his daughters, Christine Foster (Andrew) of Providence, Rhode Island, Valerie Harris (Dan) and Jennifer Wolcott of Renton, Washington, three grandchildren, Tracey Hale and Ann and Janak Foster and many loving nephews and nieces. A memorial service in celebration of Lee's life will be held Saturday, October 18, 2014, at 11:30 a.m., at The United Churches of Olympia, 110 11th Ave SE, Olympia, Washington, (360) 943-1210, with a reception to follow. The family respectfully requests that no flowers be offered. Memorial gifts in his memory may be designated for Interfaith Works, 1401 Lake Park Drive SW, Tumwater, WA 98512, or for the Creative Spirituality Endowment Fund at The United Churches of Olympia.
Published in The Olympian on Oct. 5, 2014.
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