February 6, 1920 - December 1, 2012
Grant Theodore Johnson was born to parents Frank Johnson and Ruth Scott Johnson on February 6, 1920 just outside of Dayton, Oregon. His early years were filled with agricultural work and education. These activities were interspersed with recreational activities that included kick-the-can, hide and seek, and an occasional movie for which the cost of admission was one potato during those depression years. Grant was the quarterback for McMinnville High School and also played guard for their basketball team. He took great pride in his football team of 11 players (total both offense and defense) playing state champions Eugene High School (with 40+ players) to a 6 to 0 score at halftime. He never talked much about the second half though. He graduated from MacHi in 1937 and for the next several years, worked while he attended Oregon State and Linfield Colleges. He attempted to play football at both; however, knee injuries soon ended those activities. His military career began in 1938 when he joined the National Guard. Knee injuries, again, cut this activity short and he was given a disability discharge; however, on December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Grant enlisted in the Army of the United States. The demand for soldiers had increased, his knees were improved, and he was accepted for service. Grant served in the United States until he was shipped to the European theater of operations in the summer of 1944 where he rose to the rank of captain directing the activities of a supply unit and later serving as a battery commander. He advanced with Patton's Third Army and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. His unit was engaged firing artillery shells when the end of war order was received and he often wondered whether they had fired the last rounds in Europe during WW II. He left active duty at the end of the war having been awarded a bronze star and a certificate for meritorious service but continued serving his country in the Army Reserves rising to the rank of Major and completing 20 years of service. During the war, Grant married Martha Koch Johnson and, together, they started their family with the first of their four children, Grant Theodore Johnson, Jr. (Ted). Following the war, Grant, Martha, and Ted moved to Hillsboro, Oregon and Grant started a 30 year plus career as an insurance agent with Standard Insurance Company. The next years were filled with a growing family with the additions of Sharon Ruth Abrahamson, Laurie Lynne Johnson, and Frederick Scott Johnson and with an increasingly successful career. As the years progressed, Grant expanded his career activities to include residential development and owning and operating a real estate brokerage firm. Throughout his life, Grant was deeply involved in service and was passionate about the Hillsboro community. He was not as concerned about the causes he supported as he was in one simple criterion. If it was good for the future of Hillsboro and its citizens, Grant was "for it". He was a tireless fundraiser being well known for raising support and funds for many causes ranging from helping pass city tax bases to the establishment of city parks. One of his earlier efforts was to raise funds to send Darrel "Mouse" Davis, head coach of the 1973 State Champion Hillsboro Spartan football team, to Hawaii. But his fundraising activities went far beyond that. He was considered instrumental to the establishment of Noble Woods Park, the Hillsboro Boys and Girls Club, and the Glenn and Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center and was an early and vital supporter of the Hillsboro Actors Repertory Theatre (HART). In 1996, The Hillsboro Argus announced that Grant would be the Grand Marshal of Rotary's annual Fourth of July Parade by stating "Grand Marshal Grant Johnson has raised more money for local causes than many parade goers will earn in their lifetimes. Because of him, the Boys & Girls Club has a remodeled building and Hillsboro has a 40-acre nature preserve in Noble Woods". Grant is one of the longest standing members of The Greater Hillsboro Area Chamber of Commerce. He chaired the Chamber's long range planning committee for more than 30 years and served as the organization's president in 1974. In these positions he made a personal commitment to promote quality of life issues in the city. His efforts included inviting the Regional Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) to survey the city and make recommendations for maintaining the vitality of the community. Out of this work came a long range plan for Hillsboro which became a blueprint for government and citizen cooperation and was a forerunner to the city's current 2020 Visioning Plan. Through his involvement with R/UDAT, Grant saw the need to expand arts and culture to sustain and enhance the quality of life in Hillsboro. For years, he continued his strong advocacy to promote arts and culture in the city he loved. His efforts contributed strongly to the eventual establishment of The Venetian, The Glenn and Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center, the Hillsboro Actors Repertory Theater (HART), and others. As his energy declined, he took satisfaction watching others pick up the charge and continue the momentum. He took greater pleasure in what citizens could do together than in any personal accomplishment or recognition. The Argus put it this way in 1995, "A Hillsboro resident and former chamber president, Johnson believes that if the people of a community believe in the project strongly enough and will get solidly behind it, anything can be accomplished. And for the past 50 years in Hillsboro, Grant Johnson has turned that belief into action for the community." In a separate news article, Pat Ribellia, city planner with the Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee was quoted as calling Grant "the ultimate spokesperson and advocate for improving the city's quality of life and assuring citizen involvement in city affairs." Grant was active, too, at Hillsboro First Baptist Church where he was a member for more than 60 years. Through the years, among other activities, he taught Sunday School, sang in the choir and in music groups (he loved to sing), served on the board, spearheaded the effort to raise funds for a new furnace, and initiated digging out a new basement for the old church. . . by hand (he loved to dig). Later, he served on the board of trustees for Western Conservative Baptist Seminary. After the death of his first wife in 1976, Grant married Dorothy Scott and, together, they enjoyed traveling around the world for over 20 years. Their travels took them to Japan, New Zealand, Australia, the Middle East, and Western Europe. Following Dorothy's death, Grant married their close friend, Peggy Pipes Johnson who previously taught at the University of Washington and who authored textbooks on childhood nutrition. Grant, 77 when they married, promised Peggy 10 good years and was able to keep that promise and add five additional years resulting in the celebration of their 15th anniversary in October. They traveled together including trips to Scandinavia with the Oregon Chorale, back to Japan, to France retracing Grant's World War II route, throughout the United States, and many trips to their favorite winter getaway in Cancun. Their love for each other was deep and her care for him during his decline both self sacrificing and tender. Through the years, Grant received many awards for his service. While not an exhaustive list, these included the Robert R. Herb Leadership Award for Leadership and Vision, the Hillsboro Jaycee's Distinguished Citizen Award, the Chamber's Emma C. McKinney Distinguished Citizen Award, The Chamber Chairman's Award, Senior Man of the Year, and, to honor him on his 90th birthday, Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey issued a proclamation naming February 6, 2010 to be Grant Johnson Day. Grant is survived by his wife, Peggy, four children, seven grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. Services will be held at First Baptist Church in Hillsboro, Oregon at noon on Monday, December 10, 2012. The family has suggested that donations can be made to The Hillsboro Community Foundation, Inc. for the Grant Johnson Memorial Fund at P.O. Box 808 Hillsboro, Oregon 97123. For further information regarding the fund or the foundation, contact its Executive Director, Janel McKenna, at [email protected] or at (503) 709-8426.
Grant Theodore Johnson was born to parents Frank Johnson and Ruth Scott Johnson on February 6, 1920 just outside of Dayton, Oregon. His early years were filled with agricultural work and education. These activities were interspersed with recreational... View Obituary & Service Information
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