January 29, 1927 ~ January 1, 2010
Longtime area resident and businessman, Donald O. Johnson, 82, died January 1, 2010, at Garrison Creek Lodge, 1460 Dalles Military Road, Walla Walla, Washington.
Family and friends may pay their respects from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 6, 2010, at Mountain View - Colonial DeWitt, 1551 Dalles Military road, Walla Walla, Washington. There will also be a viewing from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, January 7, 2010, at the College Place Presbyterian Church, 325NE Damson Avenue, College Place, Washington, followed by the funeral service at 10:00 a.m. at the church. Reverend Robin K. Peterson will officiate. Honorary pallbearers will be Danny Martin, David Duncan, Richard Rogers, Dustin Johnson, Mike Johnson, Nick Johnson, Eric Johnson, Justin Guild, and Don Roff. Inurnment will be private in Mountain View Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the College Place Presbyterian Church Scholarship Endowment Fund or the Appaloosa Museum through the funeral home.
Mr. Johnson was born January 29, 1927, in Dixie, Washington, to Harry M. and Ella Weaver Johnson. He attended school in Dixie and graduated from Touchet High School. He spent most of his life in the Walla Walla area except for serving from 1945 to 1947 in the US Army as an MP. He took up boxing on the side to work for passes, winning most of his bouts. Following discharge from the military, he taught boxing at Wa-Hi and DeSales and sponsored several bouts around the community.
After leaving the military, he worked for Dwelly Jones. He then went to work for John Raschko as an apprentice plumber. After leaving Raschko’s, Don started a plumbing business out of his mother’s home. In 1954, he
built a plumbing shop on 13th Street, employing five plumbers. In 1975, as a side business to plumbing, he sold trailers at Joey Nelson’s OK Tire Store. Outgrowing the plumbing facility on 13th Street, he purchased property on South 9th Street in 1978. Don later sold the plumbing business after 33 successful years.
After selling the plumbing business, he went full time into the trailer business, at its current South 9th Street location, becoming one the largest dealers on the Pacific Coast, a business that has been ongoing for thirty-five years. On August 28, 1982, he and Sharon Roff married at his cabin in Dixie. In the 1950s, Don helped organize the Walla Walla Contractors Association. He belonged to the Eastgate Business Association, Jaycees,
Walla Walla BPoe Lodge #287, and the Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Pioneer Posse, Walla Walla Team Penners, Appaloosa Horse Club, American Quarter Horse Association, and the V.F.W. Grant Farmer Post #992 of Walla Walla.
Horses had been a part of Don’s life since childhood. He raised Quarter Horses and Appaloosas, many of them going on to become great race horses and good trail horses. He had helped organize and was a rider on the Chief Joseph Appaloosa ride for the past 43 years, never missing a year. In the beginning, he organized and ran the cooking crew and rode his horse the 100 miles in five days. He was a national Appaloosa Director for six years, becoming National President in 1993. He served on the Board of Directors for the Appaloosa Museum.
One of his main organizations has been the Walla Walla Wagon Wheelers. In 1971 and 1972, he was the Wagon Master (President). In 1979, he was the Man of the Year and in 1993 he received the Lifetime Service Award. In 2006, he was given an honorary Lifetime Service Membership Award. Don took over the reins of the Junior Wagon Wheelers after the death of founder, Doug Gwinn. The Juniors had been a great part of his life. He had furnished them horses, helped them acquire jobs, and trained some as plumbers. He helped start a Kids’ nite at the Fairgrounds for any kid with or without a horse. He had been a participant when the Fair had the Club relay races and the Sheriff’s Posse, also sponsoring some of the horse races.
In the early years of the Fairgrounds, he worked with Frank Curcio to raise money to build the indoor arena. He was also instrumental in working with Eddie McMurdo to design the Food Pavilion. He has run horses in the Spring races and also sponsored them. He participated in the Sheriff Posse meets when they were held, sponsored 4-H Horse Awards, purchased animals at the Fat Stock Sale, and was a Rodeo Flag Sponsor. Don had been a supporter of the Fair Court for the past eight years by supplying them with a living quarter trailer to travel to various parades and activities during the year. In 1999, he donated over ten acres to the Wagon Wheelers and the Junior Wagon Wheelers. One barn has been made into a Club House that everyone
can be proud of. Wagon Wheeler events are held there in addition to some of the Inner Club Play Days that he helped organize over 25 years ago. He has been head of the Trail Rides, some of which were a little "wild."
There had been jokes made about having a T-shirt made that said, "We survived a Don Johnson Trail Ride!"
Don is survived by his wife at home; three daughters and sons-in-law: Kathy and Gary Martin, Mary Jo and Gary Duncan, Donna and Cliff Cook; a son and daughter-in-law, Ronald and Cynthia Johnson; two stepdaughters:
Debbie Miller and Dixie Aichele; stepson, Don Roff; a sister, Harriett E. Johnson; three brothers: Ted Johnson, Mark Johnson and Eric Johnson; twelve grandchildren, four step-grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, one
great-great-grandchild, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, a son, Donn Nicholas Johnson, an infant daughter, Diane Marie Johnson, and a brother, Walter Johnson.