Obituary: Allard “Al” Roland Johnson
Allard “Al” Roland Johnson, age 91, died on Monday, August 31, 2020. Al passed on gracefully, in his home in Shelton, Washington, surrounded by family.
Al was born on November 13, 1928, in Independence, Oregon, to Roland Ernest Johnson and Mary Elizabeth Rogers Johnson. Al was the younger of two siblings, his sister Elizabeth Joanne Johnson (Leahy) having been born in 1927. Al and his sister Jo spent memorable and formative summers in King’s Valley, at the family sheep ranch, with his grandfather ‘Boppo’ and grandmother ‘Nanny.’ In this early childhood in rural Oregon, bonding with family and working with livestock and other farm animals, Al developed the senses of both empathy and pragmatism that those who knew and loved Al admired so much in him.
In 1937, Al’s family moved to Shelton, Washington, where Al would spend most of the rest of his life. In 1946, Al graduated from Irene S. Reed High School. He was a bold and adventurous young man, having earned his pilot’s license at age 17, buying an airplane with his good friend Stan Fitz, and starting a small business specializing in air delivery and agricultural services. On one Friday afternoon in 1947, Al hopped in his plane and flew to Pullman, Washington to whisk his girlfriend and future wife, Washington State College coed Gloria Deane Gray (with whom he had graduated from high school), home for the weekend. On this flight in Al’s small aircraft, the young couple met unexpected inclement weather, which forced them to alter their heading and altitude, which in turn ran them dangerously low on fuel. Ever resourceful and determined, Al made a successful emergency landing near Gig Harbor, and the young couple lived to tell the story with fondness. In 1948, Al and Gloria were married.
From 1952 to 1954, Al served in the U.S. Navy, CB Battalions, in Guam, the Marshall Islands, and Adak, Alaska. Everywhere he was stationed, Al was instrumental in either building or renovating electrical service infrastructure.
In 1953, Al and Gloria celebrated the birth of their first son, Michael Evan. Their second son, Mark Allard, followed in 1955, and their third son, Kevin Dean, in 1957.
In 1959, Al, his wife Gloria, and their three boys climbed in an Oldsmobile station wagon and headed north on the wild and arduous Alcan Highway, as Al took work in Alaska. Drawing upon his overseas experience in the Navy, Al built a hydroelectric generating plant in Tok, Alaska.
Al and his family returned to their roots in Washington in 1961, and Al soon began what would be a long and successful career in the lumber industry. He began fabricating panels, fencing, and vacation homes. In 1964, Al set up a lumber manufacturing operation on Johns Prairie, in Shelton. In the following years, operations would expand to employ hundreds of people at five sites in three Washington counties, until the economic crunch of the early-1980s.
In the early-1980s, Al began a new chapter in life. After Al and Gloria divorced in 1982, Al remarried Mary Kirk in 1983, blending his family with hers, welcoming with open arms Mary’s daughters Shannon and Stefanie. Al also began another bold business venture in 1983, forming Cascade Forest Corporation with three other partners: his wife Mary, his son Mike, and Wes Peters. For the next decade, Al presided over the successful growth of Cascade Forest, then sold the business and retired in 1992.
From 1992 to 1997, Al and his wife Mary embarked on an adventurous retirement. Among other travels, they boated the Inside Passage from Washington to Alaska. They were often joined by other family members at different stops in these maritime travels, always delighted to share a glass of wine and a sunset over the water.
In 1997, Al took back Cascade Forest Corporation, and he would successfully operate the business until 2020, when his cancer prognosis necessitated the final sale of the company he had built. During his long career in the lumber business, many of Al’s family members made livings in his companies, including his sister Jo, all three sons, and his daughter Shannon.
Al is survived by his three sons, Mike, Mark, and Kevin; his two daughters, Shannon and Stefanie; six nieces and one nephew; fourteen grandchildren; and fourteen great-grandchildren. Al was preceded in death by his parents, Johnny and Beth; his sister, Jo; his first wife, Gloria; his wife, Mary; his grandson Ryan; and his nephew David Leahy.
Those who were fortunate enough to know Al remember him as being thoughtful, and as being courageous and determined when he made decisions and set his mind to them. He attributed his success in business to flexibility and resourcefulness, although those who worked with Al might consider that understated. Always articulate, and always credible, Al had an uncanny ability to rally his business associates to solutions for seemingly insurmountable problems. To family, Al was the patriarch: warm, loving, and generous. He was a man who could relate to anyone in his acquaintance, regardless of age or background, with sound advice and a keen sense of humor.
Source: McComb & Wagner Family Funeral Home and Crematory