Randall Wright “Randy” Johnson was born on April 19, 1950, to his parents, Bette Anne (Maples) Johnson and Charles Montgomery “Gummie” Johnson. They lived on Vashon Island during Randy’s childhood, along with his sisters, Heidi, Melissa, and Shana. It was a life of adventures in the woods, on the beach, in little boats, fishing, snow skiing, and Little League baseball.
The family moved to Olympia, Washington, when Randy started high school. He was athletic, philosophical, and intelligent. A golf scholarship took him to Columbia University in New York City. After graduating with a degree in Economics, he invited two of his sisters and his Columbia roommate on a road trip across the country, primarily through the southern states. This trip, and the van he drove, became known as La Forza del Destino to the young travelers. This was a new type of adventure for the three Pacific Northwesterners.
After returning to Washington, Randy moved to Sequim for a season to work alongside his Uncle Bill, who was a master wooden-boat builder. This gave Randy an appreciation for the elegant art of boat building, and another perspective on life and work. It brought him back closer to the waterways of Puget Sound, eventually returning to Olympia where he would start a family.
He was instrumental in the workings of Olympia’s Alternative Schools as a way to serve those who weren’t successful in public school. He taught non-violence, even when dramatic societal change was called for. He further pursued Education as a career after achieving a Master’s degree in English at Central Washington University. Learning and sharing knowledge were natural priorities in his life.
He was married to Shari in 1980, gaining three children, Christina, Jay, and Valerie. Together they had a son, Chani. The family lived in Olympia and later in Centralia and Chehalis. This part of Randy’s life was busy with work, school, kids, and producing and preserving foods grown on their land.
Randy felt that the differences among people were more fascinating than burdensome. While he abhorred capitalism and the profit motive as a way of life, he was willing to listen to those who held opposing viewpoints. He sought out the roots of divisive issues and the possible bridges. He was able to connect hard science with metaphysics and dreams -- through books, extended conversations with strangers and familiars, and through quiet thought.
In 2009, Randy married Margaret, expanding his family to include two more grown daughters, Greta and Rachel. He loved all six children and a growing number of grandchildren, his definition of family being more inclusive and broader than just genetics. Margaret remained his best friend for the rest of his life.
His most recent career experiences were as Associate Professor of English at Centralia College and later as an instructor at the Chehalis Tribal School. He loved working with, and learning from, International and Indigenous students. When he finally retired, his strong need to serve others troubled him, so he reached out to assist friends, neighbors, and his sisters to offer help – fixing fences, repairing floating docks, clearing storm debris, almost anything that was needed.
Randy was spontaneous, adventurous, and hysterically funny. He was a thoughtful and generous person. He worked hard to figure things out, seemingly impossible things. He was a true optimist. Reading science fiction entertained and expanded his mind. Mother Nature fed Randy’s inner nature – working in the woods, trimming and caring for trees, boating, and building a sweet yard and garden from a jungle of weeds.
Randy’s life ended on April 24, 2023, at 12:58 p.m. Along with the crushing sadness at losing this man from our lives, we are so grateful to have been near him for so long.
We hope he is traveling among the stars or somehow, in another way, continuing the adventure.
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