Lawrence LaMar “Larry” Johnson flew West on April 15, 2020, ending a full life of love, adventure, hard work and compassion for others. He was 92 years old and just shy of celebrating his 70th wedding anniversary with his loving wife, Glenda Heaton Johnson. Larry, as he was usually called, is survived by his wife, Glenda and his four sons: Lawrence Kevin Johnson (Elodie), Hayden Corey Johnson (Dawn), Erick Lane Johnson (Teresa) and Thorne Cameron Johnson (Barbara). He is also survived by eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, as well as two “adopted” sons: Dean Sawyer (Marie) and Dennis Bishop (Angie) of Newport, OR. Larry was born on March 11, 1928, the eve of the Great Depression.
The next 18 years of his life did not defeat him, however - they defined him. Many years later, he would observe that “If somehow, we were to lose everything, I know that I would find a way to get along … I could figure out how to survive. Because basically, that’s what I’ve had to do all my life.” Our father was the best role model any child could ever ask for.
He was honest to a fault; he loved his family and he worked hard to make sure we all had everything we needed. He was a World War II era veteran of the US Navy, trained as a Hospital Corpsman and attached to the Marines as a field medic. During the Korean War he was recalled to active duty as a Navy Corpsman and assigned to a medical dispensary. As the result of training he received in the Navy, he chose to become an Optician. After his kids were grown and on their own, he and our mom embarked on their last big adventure when they moved to a beautiful spot on the Oregon coast called Newport, where he helped establish an eye care practice called Hospital Optical.
They enjoyed 40 wonderful years there, in their house on the hill overlooking Yaquina Bay, the Newport bay front, the Yaquina Bay Bridge and the blue Pacific beyond. Larry would not want us to write an extended obituary. But here are a few things that he should be remembered for: First, he never knew a stranger. Second, he did everything he could to help someone in need. He was a volunteer with the IRS income tax assistance program for the elderly and also enjoyed taking first time flyers along for scenic rides in his Cessna 172 – especially the elderly. Third, he had a passion for helping veterans of the WW II and Korean War eras.
Whether or not you knew our father, you can honor his life and your own by helping someone in need. Our father’s favorite expression was “Don’t forget who loves you”. We heard that all our lives, and we will never forget his love.