William (Bill) Arthur Johnson, a life long resident of The Dalles, Ore., passed away at his home on Aug. 26, 2021. Bill was born at Fairbanks, Ore., on Fifteenmile Creek on Nov. 23, 1932, to Eric and Mae Remington Johnson. He was the youngest of three children and is preceded in death by his sister Bernice Johnson Roberts, his brother Kenneth Johnson and his grandson, Eric Evans.
Bill started school at Fairbanks School, where his parents Eric and Mae also attended. In 1942, the family moved to The Dalles after Fairbanks School was closed due to lack of students. This was because of World War II and the internment of Japanese citizens. Bill then attended Joseph G. Wilson School, Whittier Jr. High School and graduated from The Dalles High School in 1950. Bill graduated from Oregon State College (OSU) in 1954, where her earned a degree in agribusiness.
He and Virginia Haug were married in 1953 in The Dalles. Upon graduation from Oregon State, Bill received a Commission in the U.S. Air Force and went to pilot training in Florida and Texas. He was then stationed at James B. Connelly Air Force Base in Waco, Texas, where he flew B-25s until September 1957. While in Waco, their daughter Elizabeth was born in January 1956. He spent eight more years in USAF in various positions.
Bill, Virginia and Elizabeth returned to The Dalles in 1957 and he started farming the family ranch with his brother Kenneth. Two more daughters joined the family — Eileen was born in October 1958 and Carolyn in December 1969. Bill and his brother farmed together, bought the ranch together in 1962 and continued farming in partnership until Kenneth’s death in 1990.
Bill was involved in an equipment dealership (Johnson Equipment) from 1972-1977 in The Dalles. After selling that business, he worked for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation until 1979. In 1980, along with two partners, Mid-Columbia Insurance, Inc., was founded, where crop, hail and fire insurance was sold to local farmers. The insurance business was sold in 2000 and Bill retired. Bill and Ken were honored as Conservation Men of the Year in 1980 for their farming practice, i.e., stubble mulch and terraces. In 1982, both families were honored as Wasco County Livestock Family of the Year. Starting in 1997, the ranch was leased to a local rancher.
Through the years, Bill has been an active member of the First United Methodist Church. He was active as a volunteer in the 4-H Program as his girls showed sheep and hogs. In the early 1970s, Bill served the Petersburg School Board and was a director on the Mid-Columbia Junior Livestock Show Board from 1972-1992. In the late 1970s, he was director on the Northern Wasco County PUD Board and was also an active member of The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce Ag and Forestry Committee. He served as public relations chair for the Oregon Wheat Growers’ League in 1983 and 1984. Bill was also part of the Cattleman’s Association for many years.
In recent years, Bill had been working on Oregon Trail stories and attempted to establish the actual route the pioneers traveled from the Deschutes River to The Dalles. In 2010, Bill was honored as Pioneer of the Year for his work in this area. He has also worked on genealogy on both sides of his family. The Johnson Family came to The Dalles 114 years ago and the Remington Family came to Wasco County 121 years ago.
Bill and Virginia have enjoyed living in Wasco County and raising their family in a rural environment, which they felt offered many advantages. They were fortunate to have had their parents and many relatives near by. They have enjoyed the acquaintance of many friends throughout the area.
Bill was survived by his wife, Virginia, of 68 years, until she passed on Aug. 30, 2021. He is also survived by his three daughters, Elizabeth Windsor (Kevin), Eileen Evans (Dave) and Carolyn Calderon (Mauricio). Bill and Virginia have also been blessed with eight grandchildren (Elisa, Kameron, Kollin, Elayna, Matt, Eric, Claire and Amelia) and 10 great-grandchildren (Austin, Jake, Hailey, Ethan, Liam, Gatsby, Edison, Mae, Morgan and Connor).
Bill believed that our heritage is a very important part of community and we all need to be helpful in passing it on for future generations. He will always be remembered for his kindness, gift of gab, sense of humor and love of football and a much loved father.
A dual celebration of life with his wife Virginia is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25 at 10 a.m. and will be held at Spencer, Libby and Powell; a graveside service will follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent in honor of Bill to the Celilo Cancer Center, 1800 E. 19th St., The Dalles, OR 97058.