Johnson, Robert E. – Obituary

Robert E. “B.J.” Johnson, 74, of Barstow, Calif., and formerly of La Grande, died Feb. 15 at his home from complications of colon cancer. A memorial service was held Feb. 24 at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Richland, Wash. Einan’s Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

He was born April 2, 1933, the first of five children, to Alva and Macel Johnson in St. Paul, Ark.

After serving four years as a fighter jet radar technician in the U.S. Air Force and receiving an honorable discharge, he returned to Richland to pursue his collegiate education and follow his dreams of becoming an aircraft pilot.

As time passed and the passion for flying grew, so did his desire to raise a family. In 1957, he married Zana Lea Ellison of Rapid City, S.D., and within the next six years, Steven, Alan, Karen and Sandra were born.

In the spring of 1972 he became the operations manager at the La Grande Airport under fixed base operator Wayne Mitchell, and had the opportunity to fly fire reconnaissance missions for the Forest Service and deliver smoke jumpers to drop targets.

While in La Grande, he became active in the First Presbyterian Church and earned his bachelor’s degree in general studies from Eastern Oregon State College. Seeing an opportunity for diversification, Bob and Zana purchased Joel’s Grocery — a small neighborhood market on the corner of Cedar and Washington.

As the years went by, he had opportunities in the aviation industry to play a part in the startup and management of various charter and commuter airlines. When it was finally time to hang up his wings, he had logged more than 18,000 hours of flying time in various turboprop and corporate jet aircraft. After nearly 45 years in the aviation industry he chose to focus on other hobbies and special interests. Not wanting to let any grass grow under his feet he obtained his commercial driver’s license and logged over 250,000 miles in heavy duty on-highway trucks.

He is survived by brother-in-law, Roland Haney of Richland, Wash.; siblings and their spouses, Bill and Joyce Johnson of Spokane, Wash.; Jim and Peggy Johnson of Atlanta, Ga., and Janice and Malcum Chunn of Richland, Wash.; wife, Zana Johnson of Barstow, Calif.; children and their spouses, Steve and Victoria of Caldwell, Idaho, Alan and Janet of Tigard, Karen and Steve of Chattanooga, Tenn., Sandra and Major Robert “Bob” of San Antonio, Texas; several grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; and by his sister, Susie Haney of Richland, Wash., in October 2007.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Healthwell Foundation, which assisted with significant expenses associated with Robert’s cancer treatment, in care of Einan’s Funeral Home, P.O. Box 90, Richland, Wash., 99352.

La Grande Observer – Obituaries for the week ending March 1, 2008

Robert E. “B. J.” Johnson, 74, of Barstow, Calif., and formerly of La Grande, died Feb. 15 at his home from complications of colon cancer. A memorial service was held Feb. 24 at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Richland, Wash. Einan’s Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
He was born April 2, 1933, the first of five children, to Alva and Macel Johnson in St. Paul, Ark.

After serving four years as a fighter jet radar technician in the U.S. Air Force and receiving an honorable discharge, he returned to Richland to pursue his collegiate education and follow his dreams of becoming an aircraft pilot.

As time passed and the passion for flying grew, so did his desire to raise a family. In 1957, he married Zana Lea Ellison of Rapid City, S.D., and within the next six years, Steven, Alan, Karen and Sandra were born.

In the spring of 1972 he became the operations manager at the La Grande Airport under fixed base operator Wayne Mitchell, and had the opportunity to fly fire reconnaissance missions for the Forest Service and deliver smoke jumpers to drop targets.

While in La Grande, he became active in the First Presbyterian Church and earned his bachelor’s degree in general studies from Eastern Oregon State College. Seeing an opportunity for diversification, Bob and Zana purchased Joel’s Grocery — a small neighborhood market on the corner of Cedar and Washington.

As the years went by, he had opportunities in the aviation industry to play a part in the startup and management of various charter and commuter airlines. When it was finally time to hang up his wings, he had logged more than 18,000 hours of flying time in various turboprop and corporate jet aircraft. After nearly 45 years in the aviation industry he chose to focus on other hobbies and special interests. Not wanting to let any grass grow under his feet he obtained his commercial driver’s license and logged over 250,000 miles in heavy duty on-highway trucks.

He is survived by brother-in-law, Roland Haney of Richland, Wash.; siblings and their spouses, Bill and Joyce Johnson of Spokane, Wash.; Jim and Peggy Johnson of Atlanta, Ga., and Janice and Malcum Chunn of Richland, Wash.; wife, Zana Johnson of Barstow, Calif.; children and their spouses, Steve and Victoria of Caldwell, Idaho, Alan and Janet of Tigard, Karen and Steve of Chattanooga, Tenn., Sandra and Major Robert “Bob” of San Antonio, Texas; several grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; and by his sister, Susie Haney of Richland, Wash., in October 2007.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Healthwell Foundation, which assisted with significant expenses associated with Robert’s cancer treatment, in care of Einan’s Funeral Home, P.O. Box 90, Richland, Wash., 99352.

La Grande Observer – Obituaries for the week ending March 1, 2008



MLA Source Citation:

White, Judy Wallis. Union County, Oregon Obituaries. Published by AccessGenealogy.com. Copyright 1999-2013, all rights reserved. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 24 October 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/arkansas/johnson-robert-e-obituary.htm - Last updated on Nov 8th, 2011

Contribute to the Conversation!

Our "rules" are simple. Keep the conversation on subject and mind your manners! If this is your first time posting, we do moderate comments before we let them appear... so give us a while to get to them. Once we get to know you here, we'll remove that requirement.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Newsletter Signup

We currently provide two newsletters. Why not take both for a run?

Genealogy Update: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new, or significantly updated, collection or database on our website.

Circle of Nations: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new (or significantly updated) Native American collection or database on our website.

Once you've clicked on the Subscribe button above you'll receive an email from us requesting confirmation. You must confirm the email before you will be able to receive any newsletter.