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1923 Wally 2017

Wally Johnson

December 8, 1923 — February 20, 2017

Wally Johnson passed away peacefully on February 20, 2017. The hospice nurse knew he was failing quickly; so, she stayed with him throughout the day. Finally, she was praying over him, holding his hand. After a while, she spoke to him softly, saying, “Wally, it’s time for you to go home now; Emilia has a good supper waiting…” With that; he slipped away. Wally was the first born of 4 boys. Growing up on a beet farm in western Minnesota, he was always tasked with the outside farm chores and helping his younger brothers. When World War II started, he wanted to join and do the right thing; but, his dad held him back for a year. After that year, he couldn’t be held any longer; so, off he went to join the Army Air Corp. It was while in the military, at a dance in Bartlesville, OK that he met Emilia. Post war, he attended OU while they lived in “north base” housing in Norman. Then, he went to work in the “oil field”; at first working on the drilling rigs in Texas. Finally landing at “the plant” in Maysville, where they made their permanent home and life. I remember the “loading racks” of rail cars; his working “shut down” shifts periodically; the daily life of checking wells and working in the lab. He taught us early how to use a slide rule. One to respect all things nature, he learned gardening from the old folks; enjoying his garden and Mother’s canning. He didn’t like to throw trash on or in the ground and was fanatical about his “rain water” catching….one has no idea how many plastic one litre bottles of rainwater he stored, believe me. With his conservational mindset; he wanted cars that got good gas mileage (when gas was 29 cents per gallon), always recycled, and, yes, we left the campground cleaner than when we arrived. Dad loved a good adventure too. Canoe camping trips in the boundary waters of Minnesota were his favorites; but, so were those trips out West. At age 65 he passed his private pilot test. Sailing on the Oklahoma lakes was one of his other adventures. He bought a motorcycle to learn that skill. But, I believe his most beloved adventure was the Boy Scouts of America. He was well-traveled in that arena, and recognized for leadership. We all know that he especially liked a good fire; and, it seems he always had some sort of fire burning: campfire, dutch oven fire, burning trash, leaves, you name it. Even the propane torch to scorch the weeds. As he aged, that passion turned to the back yard chiminea. He used to say, “white man builds a big fire and stands far away; the Indian builds a small fire (that lasts and lasts) and stands close to enjoy with his friends.” One last thought about Wally. I watched him cry whenever the National Anthem was performed, time and again. He had one phrase that guided his life that I now gladly share with you: FOR GOD AND COUNTRY. Memorial services are pending at this time.
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