George Albert “Brud” Johnson
ROSEVILLE, California — After all his flying was done and he had reached many of his goals, George Albert Johnson passed away peacefully on June 2, 2017, at Sutter General Hospital, Roseville, California at the age of 93.
George was born on May 6, 1924, in Ishpeming, the second of six children, to the late Edward ‘George’ and Lillian (Sangala) Johnson. After graduating from Ishpeming H.S., George headed to Detroit to work for a short period of time in the automotive industry.
In 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the age of 19 and began his military career as a navigator on B17 aircraft in stations including MacDill in Florida, Italy and India.
In 1946, he married his childhood school mate, Martha Mildred Harvala.
Following the War, he was recalled to active duty and began training on B29’s as a pilot. He flew reconnaissance missions over Europe, Alaska & Japan. In 1951, he was assigned to the B-47 wing at MacDill Air Force base near Tampa, Florida and in 1954 the B-47 wing in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In 1958, he joined the Strategic Air Command (SAC) Liaison Team, Norad HQ, Colorado Springs and in 1961 it was on to the 16th AF HQ Torrejon Air Base near Madrid, Spain. He was then stationed from 1964-69 at SAC headquarters Offutt Nebraska near Omaha for the next 5 years as provisional officer SR-71(Blackbird), acquisition and test. While working on the SR-71 program George had the pleasure of interacting with Lockheed executive and famous aviation pioneer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson (no relation) who was also an Ishpeming native. He graduated from Omaha University in 1964. Then to the 15th HQ, March AFB, in California as director of plans and programs from 1969-74 where he retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel after 30 years in SAC. Lt. Col. Johnson was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.
Lt. Col. Johnson then moved on to a new career with Boeing. He was hired to train the Iranian AF in 707/747 tanker operations in Teheran, Iran from 1974-78 leaving Iran shortly before the over throw of the Shah. From 1978-95 he was Boeing’s Industrial Analyst and Surveillance Manager and retired from Boeing after 21 years in September of 1995.
Not only did George experience two illustrious and distinguished careers in aviation but with the numerous family trips they enjoyed together, he introduced his family to endless adventures and experiences throughout America, Europe and beyond. He was proud of his U.P. Michigan and Finnish heritage and travelled home as often as he could. He especially enjoyed being actively involved in many family reunions there.
Finally retiring after Martha’s stroke to Sun City Roseville, they continued to enjoy life entertaining family and friends, playing golf, travelling, meeting regularly for Sunday brunches and get-togethers at the Inn. Dad was a good guy to many and a hero to his family and friends.
At the time of his death he was living in Roseville, California. He was preceded in death by his infant son, Robert in 1963 and his wife of 65 years, Martha (Harvala) in 2011.
He will be missed by his children, Denise Williams of Sacramento, California, Barbara Locking (Chris) of Flint and Alan Johnson (Jane) of Renton, Washington; granddaughters, Tracy Robinson (Jim) of Roseville, California, Heather Demolski (Tom) of Minden, Nevada and Alison Garza (Juan II) of Slidell, Louisiana; great-grandchildren, Jacquelynn and Juliette Robinson; Juan III, Vega, Maximo and Lila Garza; siblings, Corinne Isotalo Baldini, Bernice Williams, Joan Magnuson, John N. Johnson (Kathy) and Mary Linna, as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Per his wishes George was cremated. Interment will be at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California alongside his wife and infant son. Memorial contributions may be made to your preferred charity.
On line condolences may be sent to cochranewagemann.com.