Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

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Billie Johnson


April 23, 2020

Our Mother, Billie Frances, was born at the home of family friends on February 17, 1928, in Woodward, Oklahoma. She was the first child of C.B. and Vivian Taylor Owens. She lived in Woodward until 1934, when she moved to Washington with her parents and paternal grandparents.

Mom attended several schools in the Spokane area including Logan, Orchard Avenue and Dishman. She was particularly fond of Dishman. While she was attending high school at West Valley in 1943, her father took a job with the Milwaukee railroad in Malden, Washington.

Mom then transferred to Pine City High School, where she graduated in 1946, as Valedictorian in a class of nine. It was there she met Fred Johnson, Jr., a classmate and later our Dad.

In June of 1946, the Owens family moved back to Woodward to be closer to aging family. Mom worked night shift as an operator for the Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. Distance and the tornado of April 9, 1947, would prompt J.R. to drop out of WSC and bring Billie back to Whitman County. So despite at one time writing her grandparents she would never marry a farmer, she did just that on September 26, 1948.

At age 20, she became a farmwife and bookkeeper. She cooked for harvest crews and learned to 'can'. At 5'1" she was a truck driver and equipment mover. She became a sports and 4-H mom. For five years she worked as an assistant to Rosalia dentist, E.L. Ogden. She was an active 50 plus year member of the Kenova Grange and a charter member of the Jr. Excella Club. In the early 1970's, she served as Chairman of the Wheat Queen Committee for the W.A.W.G. She was the first and long-time sec.-treas. of the Pine City Historical Society.

For the 52 years they were married, Mom and Dad lived and worked on the Angus-Johnson farm two miles south of Pine City on Thorn Creek Road. Our parents enjoyed traveling and a lifetime of good friends. Dad died in August of 2000. Mom continued living on the farm until 2016, when a fall forced her to leave home and the community she loved. She passed away April 14th, 2020, in Spokane.

She is survived by three children: Richard (Janet) Johnson of Yakima, Terri Ann (Terry) Brown of Spokane and Kris Johnson of Pine City; her eight grandchildren, Ryan, Alex and Jeffrey Johnson, Courtney Stolp, Allison Kasman, Cory, Bryce and Jamie Johnson; and 11 great-grandchilden, with a twelfth due in August. She is also survived by her "little" brothers, "the twins", Larry (Nancy) Owens of the Spokane Valley and Gary (JoAnn) Owens of Spokane.

Due to the current pandemic, a private burial has taken place at the Pine City cemetery, Pine City, Wash. Memorial gifts may be made to the Pine City Historical Society, the Kenova Grange or any organization or charity of your choice.

Bruning Funeral Home of Colfax, Wash., is caring for the family. Online guest book is at http://www.bruningfuneralhome.com.


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