May 5, 1925 — December 1, 2018
John Ellwood Johnson was born May 9, 1925, to John Nicholas and Verna Rae (Daniels) Johnson in Albany. With the exception of the last five years, John was a lifelong Albany resident, and many remember him as the proprietor of Johnson Machine Works on First Avenue. John graduated from Central Elementary School in 1939 and Albany Union High School in 1943. As a senior in high school, he was granted early admission to Oregon State College, simultaneously completing his first semester as a candidate for a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering.
Inducted into the U.S. military at age 18, he selected naval training and service which began for him in Farragut, Idaho. He completed Machinist Mate Training at the Naval Training School in Dearborne, Michigan, highlighted in his memory by visits to the Ford Motor Company facility. He then continued in the NROTC Engineering program at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois.
Honorably discharged from the Navy in June of 1946, a few months after the conclusion of World War II, he resumed his education and graduated from Oregon State College with a Bachelor of Science of Mechanical Engineering.
Fondly called “Ellwood” and “Laddie” by his parents and many aunts and uncles, he was an only child. When he finished his naval training, he returned to Albany to work with his father in J.N. Johnson Machine Works, the shop on the corner of First and Jackson streets that was to become his own.
In 1951, a young woman rented a room in a boarding house in the same block as the Johnsons’ house and machine shop. John noticed Melba Christian, a pretty, redheaded California transplant, as she walked by on her way to teach at Albany Christian Kindergarten every day in the Assembly of God church at Second and Jackson. He also noticed her participation in the choir at a gospel crusade held in the armory. One day he offered her a ride to the meeting and was pleasantly surprised when she accepted. They courted for several months, but the next year Melba took a job in Springfield, Missouri. He watched her family help pack her belongings, convinced he would never see or hear from her again.
The phone call came just a few months later. It was her voice, “Johnny, I want to be with you.” He purchased a ring and drove to Springfield, Missouri, where they were married March 6, 1954; honeymooning their way back to Oregon to make their permanent home in Albany. He was unwavering in his love and commitment to her for the next 58 years, through health and sickness until she passed away in 2013. They had three children — Cheryle Rae, Malcolm Nicholas, and Christine Denise — to whom, along with his wife, he devoted his entire life.
John’s hobbies, including camping and fishing, photography and model railroading, were of most interest to him when enjoyed with family and friends. As the family grew, all eight grandchildren caught their limit of rainbow trout with Grandpa at the helm of his handcrafted, big green boat; and spent hours watching his trains or building their own model railroad layouts in consultation with him. He delighted at every chance to watch, hold, play with, or print pictures of each great-grandchild as they began arriving. As most others raised during The Great Depression, he wasted nothing and saved everything he could to leave something for his legacy. That legacy, he knew, was the people he touched, not the things that he owned.
John was reserved, unveiling remarkable depth of thought and wit at golden moments. Though quiet, he cared deeply and took interest in everyone he met. He was innovative and selfless, eager to use skills to help others — notably his wife, children and his church family — implementing their ideas or solving problems. He longed to share his faith in Creator God and gratitude for blessings (such as how he met his wife) that he recognized at every turn. He attended church faithfully — Grace Mennonite Church in Albany in his younger years, Albany First Assembly of God throughout his adult life, and finally Timberline Baptist in Sherwood — and gave generously of his time and craft to the Lord’s work.
John and Melba moved to Astor House in Newberg, Oregon, in June 2013. She preceded him in death in August of that year.
John is survived by his children and their spouses, Douglas and Cheryle Muckey of Ellendale, North Dakota, Malcolm and Annette Johnson of Portland, and Mike and Christine Wise of Newberg; eight grandchildren, Jonathan (Jenny) Muckey, Chad Muckey, David Muckey, Lindsay (Michael) Robertson, Demetria (KC) Larson, Kaitlyn Johnson, Turner (Kristen) Wise and Pieper (Joshua) Carlson; and ten great-grandchildren, Scotland, Brody, Emmett and Huntley Robertson, Ames, Mylo and Hazely Larson, Bryndee and Grayson Wise, and Josie Carlson.
Viewing will be from 3 to 7 p.m. on Friday, December 14, 2018, at Attrell’s Chapel, 207 Villa Road, Newberg, OR 97132. A service honoring the life of John Ellwood Johnson will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 15, 2018 at Attrell’s. A graveside memorial will follow at Belcrest Memorial Park, 1295 Browning Ave S., Salem, OR 97302.
An online tribute wall has been established at https://www.attrells.com/obituaries/John-Johnson-138/#!/TributeWall.