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James "Jim" L. Johnson

June 20, 1924 - January 27, 2020


James Born in the bedroom of the family farmhouse on June 20, 1924 near Hudson South Dakota, the youngest of 3. Knowing hard times brings hard work he moved to Oregon as an early teen with his family after the depression took the family farm, graduating from Hubbard High while working hard to help the family make ends meet. Like so many of “The Greatest Generation”, he served his country in the Navy during WWII. When he came home he was on his way to the bank to withdraw money to go to a livestock auction to begin his farming career but a help wanted sign in the window of the bank changed all that. That next day he began his 45 plus year in banking, eventually making his way through a stint as a national Bank Examiner to US Bank where he would have a 35 year career taking him from Portland to The Dalles to Salem to Eugene and back to Portland to retire as a Sr. Vice President. But the best gift that came from that career choice was the opportunity to meet the love of his life, Betty Laudhal, who he would marry on March 31, 1950.  He would later in life confess that Betty was the first woman that he really kissed, their love and respect for each other was the envy and admiration of all that knew them. They had two children, JoEllen born in Portland and Jim Jr. born in The Dalles. Sadly Betty was taken from him too early in 1988 by cancer. Jim never remarried or found that love again, but the time they had together was enough to hold his heart until the day he passed. Jim taught those around him: family, friends and work colleagues that hard work makes a difference and that everyone matters. He treated the CEO the same as the brand new employee. He taught us all the true meaning of a hand written thank you note and cherished each one he received. We discovered a box that contained notes he had received over the last 50 years that he choose to keep. He taught us the value of time; he gave it generously to non-profits with his service, on boards, committees and campaigns. Never attending college, some of his proudest time served was with the University of Oregon on the Board of Trustees, the Pioneer Award Steering Committee or by supporting the athletic department. He passed on January 27, 2020 but leaves a lifetime of influence with his children, his grandchildren, great grandchildren, an enormous group of friends and colleagues. Integrity would be the one word used by all to describe Jim. At his request no service will be held, however a celebration of his life will take place this spring. Contributions to the University Of Oregon Foundation directed to the Presidential Scholarship program in his name will be a wonderful way to remember him.  

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JoEllen and Jimmie,

I was saddened to hear of your Father's passing.  My Mother died last year and even though they both had a long life-it is just never long enough!  Betty and Jim were always so kind to me and will never forget when I was invited to spend a week long summer vacation at Surf Tides with everyone. Jim was always such a gentleman and Betty was such a distinguished lady-what a power couple they made!  May they both be having the time of their life-back together once again.
May fond memories help this tough time,
Cheryl Vachter-Lonergan
Woodburn, OR