Harold W Johnson, 95, passed peacefully Thursday afternoon with family at his side, five days after his mind and body decided it was time to go home to his beloved Margie, his wife of 69 years who had preceded him in death two years prior. Harold was born December 1, 1924, the youngest of ten, to Edwin E and Hallie E Curtis (Cook) Johnson in a small house near the Boise River, his older sisters helping with the delivery. His mother took him back to Hawthorne, California, where he lived for the next eight years. The family moved to a cabin above Robie Creek until he was eleven and then moved to Boise. He rode his bicycle five miles to attend a brand new North Junior High. When Harold was fifteen his mother died; after this, he lived with some of his older brothers until he graduated from Boise High School in 1942.
Harold followed three brothers to Sausalito, California that summer to work on a housing project and then to the Marin Ship Yard where he learn to weld, cut, and bend the steel decking and bulkheads of Liberty ships under construction. As World War II continued to rage, Harold decided to join the Navy in April 1943, and was able to use his metal working skills when he was stationed in the New Hebrides islands in the South Pacific and assigned to the Advanced Base Sectional Dry-dock (ABSD-1). After 18 months of overseas duty, he transferred stateside to start pilot training in Louisiana. This ended when he broke his eardrum, but he was able to start earning his private license during this time.
After being discharged in October 1945, he returned to the Northwest, first helping his dad in Washington and then working with his brothers and brother-in-law, logging around the Yellow Pine area. He continued to improve his flying skills, which came in handy when he met Marjorie Stewart at a Valentine’s Day dance in 1947 at the Robie Creek Dance Hall and took her on their first date, flying around the valley in a two-seat Luscombe. They married in July 1948, raising three boys and a girl.
Harold continu ed to log with his brothers in the summer and to build houses in the winter. After four yea rs, they started Westland Building Supply and built houses year-round for the next 13 years. In 1965, when his brothers decided to retire, Harold and his oldest son built his last house, his own, in which he and Margie lived for the next 49 years. He took a job with a trailer factory, first helping to build the factory, then running the carpentry shop. When a position opened at Mercy Hospital, he started a 24-year career as a maintenance carpenter. He was once called upon to put on scrubs and pull off a wedding ring from a patient in the OR with two vice-grip pliers.
Upon retirement at age 68, Harold spent the next two years volunteering his experience, a half-day at a time, to help build Capital Christian Center. They even let him run a road grader, which brought back old memories. Harold spent much of his early retirement years helping friends and relatives with their remodeling projects. When his middle son decided to build his own house over a two year period, Harold was right there, helping whenever he could.
Harold and Margie were deeply involved in The Home of the Good Shepherd, an orphanage in Taegue, South Korea. They made nine trips to South Korea to inspect the orphanage and assess the needs of the orphans. They also made 15 side trips into China, successfully smuggling Bibles in false-bottomed backpacks for Christian missionaries.
Never idle even in his later years, Harold exemplified a life well-lived. If he wasn’t helping someone else, he was climbing up on ladders and taking care of his house and yard well into his eighties. At age 93, he asked for a trike, and darn it, if a 93-year-old is able to ride a trike, he SHOULD ride a trike. And ride it he did, leaning into those downhill corners while we all held our breath. He rode the entire length of the Boise Greenbelt, a little bit at a time, with kids, grandkids, or great-grandkids in tow to keep him on the path. He took his last ride through the neighborhood in March of this year. Ever the optimist, he also had plans for the future—he wanted to buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle so he could ride in the side car, and build a kit airplane that he could fly (and land!)—and he was talking about those things until just a few weeks ago.
He left an amazing legacy of love and wisdom, to not only his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but to everyone he met along the way. He never met a stranger, and his humility and caring for his fellow humans should be a lesson for every one of us. He will be missed deeply, but we know he will be busy watching out for all of us.
Harold is survived by three sons and a daughter, Richard (Mary), Gordon (Connie), Russell (Char), and Joann Laframboise (Kerry); eleven grandchildren; twenty great- grandchildren (another one on the way); one great-great grandchild; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, parents, nine siblings, and two grandchildren.
A viewing will be held at Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel, Boise, Thursday night, August 20, from 6-8 pm and a livestream celebration of his life at Capital Church in Meridian, Friday, August 21 at 10 am. A link can be obtained on Harold’s tribute Page at www.aldenwaggoner.com. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Capital Church Missionary Fund or . We also wish to thank the staff of Alpine Meadows Assisted Living Center and Horizon Home Hospice for the incredible care and compassion they showed to Harold.