Kenneth Ray Johnson passed away March 19, 2022.
He was born Feb. 24, 1926 to Fay and Villa Johnson, the second of eight children. He was born and raised in Bedford, Indiana. As a child growing up during the Great Depression, he learned to be grateful for everything. He and his four brothers and three sisters were thrilled to even receive only one gift on Christmas morning. Ken was raised to love the Lord and to treat everyone with kindness and respect no matter their station in life, nationality or color of their skin. He and his wife Barbara passed that tenet on to their four children.
Being raised on a farm, he was also taught a strong work ethic. This led Ken to enlist in the Navy two months shy of his 18th birthday. He had hopes of later going to medical school and so chose to be a Navy Corpsman — on the front lines giving medical aid to the Marines. He landed on Iwo Jima beach with the fourth wave of Marines the day before his 19th birthday — the day the American flag was raised. He often said that prayer and focusing on the soldier in front of him kept the immediate fear of danger at bay. It would be later that the nightmares would come.
Ken was stationed briefly in Oklahoma before going overseas. At a church mixer he met the girl of his dreams. Ken and Barbara had a 2 year engagement and got married 3 days after she turned 18. Their children Benny and Rosey were both born in Anderson, Indiana where Ken was going to college and 8 years later along came Robbie and then Ted who were born in Brazil, Indiana.
The family moved to Bellevue, Washington in 1962, the year of the World’s Fair in Seattle. Ken’s brother Ben and family moved out west as well. The two brothers started their own insurance company and ran it for quite a few years. As the children got older and started leaving the nest it was time for Ken and Barbara to downsize and Ken chose to leave the insurance business but put his excellent sales skills to use in selling manufactured homes for many years. Through the years, Ken would go fishing and hunting every year. Rosey and Robbie got accustomed to a belated family celebration of their birthdays because they always fell during elk and/or deer season! He also took the family camping a few times every year, which included fishing and “plinking,” of course!
At 78, he and Barbara were living in Arlington, Washington. It was time to move closer to family and finally retire. Their final home was in Westport, Washington, a few blocks from Robbie & her husband, Gilbert. They both loved the quiet, small town feel and especially loved watching the birds and Ken playing his organ which in her final years became a comfort to Barbara.
Their son Benny moved in with them to help Robbie and Gilbert care for them. He stayed with Ken after Barbara passed away in 2015. Then when Benny passed away in 2017 Ken chose to go live at Pacific Care Center in Hoquiam. He knew most of the staff and knew the wonderful care he would get since due to Alzheimer’s, that was where Barbara spent her last few years. Ken was one of the whole stafff’s favorite residents — he always had a smile and a kind word. Robbie and Gilbert were able to put Ken’s organ in his room — he played it every day — to the end. Staff and other residents would gather outside the door to listen. Outside his window were many, many bird feeders (thanks to Gilbert). When Gilbert added bird feeders throughout the complex, the former “TV Room” became the “Bird Room.” And his organ is now a permanent fixture at Pacific Care.
Ken is preceded in death by his wife of 68 years, Barbara, his oldest son, Benny, his oldest daughter, Rosey Marsille, his parents, his brothers, Ben and Russell and his big sister May Newkirk. He leaves behind his younger daughter and spouse, Robbie aka Roberta (Gilbert) Myers, his youngest son, Ted Johnson and his son-in-law, Gil Marsille. He is also survived by seven grandchildren and their spouses: Ken Marsille, Chris (Dawn) Marsille, Elisabeth (Scott) Britton, Andrew Gerber, William (Cheyenne) McGaffey, Nick (Monica) McGaffey and Samantha (Nick) Anderson. Ken was also blessed with nine great-grandchildren: Noah, Connor and Isaac McGaffey; Osian, Audrey and Sylvia McGaffey; Dominic and Michael Marsille and Easton Marsille.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, July 22, at Montesano Church of God and at 2:30 p.m. at Mount Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent.