Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Loren Hills Johnson 1928-2012

On March 30, 1928 in Moab, Utah, a young widow, Ruth Westwood Johnson, gave birth to her sixth child. Her husband, Joseph Hills Johnson, had been tragically killed in a freak horse back riding accident just three months earlier. That baby was my father, Loren Hills Johnson. Grandma would later say that because he was such a happy baby, he gave her the will to continue living.

The Johnson family lived on a farm and at the tender age of three years, dad was helping out by doing farm chores such as milking cows. His mother approached him hard at work milking one day. It was such a comical sight to see a tiny tot milking a big cow, that Grandma began to laugh. Little Loren stopped his work, and holding onto two teats peered under the cow and up at Grandma exclaiming, "You shut yo mouf (mouth)!"

When he was three years old his mother married her husband's widowed cousin, Milton Edwin Johnson who had 12 children of his own. The eldest two step siblings were out of the nest at the time of the marriage. A set of twins were step siblings younger than Dad and he had a step brother his same age. With Miltons' ten and Ruth's five (her eldest having passed away as a young child), the tiny house was bursting at the seams. It was not an easy childhood, but young Loren seemed to take everything in stride.

He grew up in Moab, attending Moab Schools. He was quite gifted as an athlete and played both football and basketball for Grand County High School.

After graduating, he served with the armed forces of the United States when they occupied Japan after WWII. He served as a mechanic in the motor pool. He also played football on an army team.

Dad served for two and a half years as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Norway. He had saved the money so he could support himself on his mission. When he returned home from his mission, he continued doing missionary work. He loved teaching the Gospel and helping bring others to Christ. In later years he and his wife served for 18 months in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission.

Shortly after his mission his sister Martha talked him into taking her and a co-worker, another nurse who worked with her at the hospital, to a Christmas dance. On new Years day he proposed to that nurse and was married (and sealed) to Genevieve Holyoak on April 9, 1953 in the Manti, Utah Temple. To their union were born eight children. He an Genevieve raised their children mostly in Moab, Utah.

He was very creative. We had one-of-a-kind swing sets and playground toys mostly made from scrap metal. He would build play houses for us. Someone would offer him money (which always came in handy to supplement his construction worker's income), for those houses, so he would sell our playhouse and build us another.

Loren was a student of the scriptures. He was always studying them and sharing his insights with us even up to a few days before his passing. He loved the Gospel and his Savior, Jesus Christ.

When Genevieve passed away on November, 2, 2011 it seemed to take the wind out of his sails. Loren left this mortal phase of his life to be reunited with his sweetheart and eternal companion on March 9, 2012. I love you Daddy. "You're so precious."