October 4, 1928 – August 6, 2019
Lewis Frank Johnson (Lew) was born on Oct. 4, 1928 in Bend, Oregon to Orval E. and Beulah Evelyn Jones Johnson. He spent his youth attending school in Bend and any free moments hunting and fishing in the woods surrounding his home. He and his three siblings slept outside in a tent year-round with lots of quilts to keep them warm. When they moved to a “bigger” house, the three boys were upgraded to a shed to sleep in, but still no heat or indoor toilet. In 1938, his brother, Thurlow, passed away at the age of 12 from leukemia.
While going to school he met Darleen M. Crowell, who would become his wife on Sept. 24, 1949; they were married in Bend, Oregon. Shortly after, Lew joined the U.S. Air Force. He spent time in Texas before being sent to and stationed in Alaska where Darleen joined him. He worked on communication lines and got a great view from the tops of poles. On April 11, 1955 their son Larry Michael (Mike) was born. Mike was born in Alaska while it was still a territory, giving him bragging rights.
While Lew was in the Air Force, his in-laws had moved to the small community of Othello, Washington to farm and informed him of the employment opportunities there. Upon his honorable discharge from the Air Force he, Darleen and Mike moved to Othello.
In November 1956 Lew became one of only three police officers in Othello. Lew quit the force for a short time and drove truck for a fuel oil company. He was soon hired back to the police department as chief.
On June 21, 1958 the Johnson family welcomed a daughter Terri Lee into the family.
During Lew’s 26 years of leadership in the police department, the force grew to 14 officers. Lew’s proudest achievements during his career were getting convictions on two murder cases. In an interview for the newspaper, he said his biggest accomplishment on the force was solving a four-year missing persons case that ended with finding the victim’s body and convicting the husband of murder.
During his career in the police department, he was president and an active member of the Peace Officers Association and was also appointed by then-Speaker of the House of Representatives Tom Foley to interview Air Force Academy candidates in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He came home in awe of the intelligence and poise of the young applicants.
On April 8, 1999 Darleen, his wife of nearly 50 years, passed away. After her death, Lew spent his time doing his favorite things, golfing and fishing, spending many hours at the golf course and out in the potholes.
On Oct. 23, 2003 Lew married his second life partner Mary Lee Dummit in Wenatchee, Washington. They moved to Dayton, Washington and then to Walla Walla, Washington. Lew and Mary Lee spent time traveling to Missouri, camping and taking drives looking for “critters” in the mountains.
In his later years, “because of my granddaughter” he said, he became a “Bambi person” and gave up hunting, instead preferring to just go out and look at the animals he used to hunt. He was still okay with killing fish, though, and was always able to (according to him) out-fish his son Mike.
As Lew aged he developed dementia and was moved into care facilities, first in Walla Walla, Washington and then in Kennewick, Washington. During this time, even though he couldn’t remember specifics about time and such, he still remembered his family and kept his fabulous sense of humor.
On Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019 Lew fell and fractured a vertebra in his neck. Other complications were found while in the hospital and as a result he passed away on Aug. 6, 2019 at 7:40 a.m. at the age of 90 years old.
Lew was preceded in death by his father Orval E. Johnson, his mother Beulah E. Jones Johnson, his sister Lucille Annabelle (Peg) Johnson Wood, his brother and hunting partner Orval E. (Ole) Johnson Jr., his brother Thurlow E. Johnson and his first wife Darleen M. Crowell Johnson. Lew is survived by his second wife Mary Lee Dummit Johnson, his son Mike Johnson, his favorite daughter-in-law Vicki Johnson, his daughter Terri Johnson Edden, and numerous grandkids and great-grandkids.
In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to the charity of your choice in Lew’s name through Mountain View-Colonial DeWitt funeral home, 1551 The Dalles Military Road, Walla Walla, WA 99362. A memorial service will be held at Stevens Funeral Home Chapel, in Othello, Washington at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 with a graveside service to follow at Bess Hampton Cemetery Othello, Washington.