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Whitman County Gazette 

Bruce Johnson

Jan. 16, 1943 – April 4, 2021


April 22, 2021

Bruce Johnson obituary photo

Bruce Johnson

Bruce M Johnson passed away on April 4, 2021, in Grandview, Wash., at The Orchards where Bruce was living with his wife of 57 years, Norma Bruce Johnson. The Orchards staff as well as Heartlinks Hospice Care and Prosser Hospital all provided excellent care in his last days. Anyone who knew Bruce will remember his drive to fix or modify everything he touched. Even as his body aged and his hands froze up - he was still modifying his walker and customizing his homemade cane.

As a kid Bruce ran wild with a dozen cousins in the woods north of Potlatch, ID where he was born Jan. 16, 1943. Even after his family moved to a farm in Garfield, Wash., summers were spent back in Potlatch with Grandma Moude Carscallen and those cousins. Bruce graduated from Garfield High in 1961 and that summer he met Norma Bruce. After high school, he studied accounting at Eastern WA University and finished business school in Spokane.

Bruce and Norma married in 1964 and they moved to Colfax after he finished school in Spokane. After a few years, life took them to Yakima, Wash., where they raised their three children. Bruce enjoyed being the Plant Manager at Washington Fruit and learning the fruit business. He also sold real estate, opened an automotive repair shop and managed apartments before going into the excavating business. Bruce also designed, installed and repaired septic systems across the Yakima Valley before he retired.

He put his love of taking things apart and fixing them (or in his words - improving them) to use in all of his careers - but most of all he enjoyed coming up with new ways to use old equipment or parts. His shop always had five projects going and there were 10 more in his head or drawn on scraps of cardboard. Bruce read about everything and could start or join a conversation on just about any topic. To his grandchildren he was the hero who could fix or build anything and answer questions all day. To his friends and family he was the guy who always had a bucket of bolts and could help you make a project harder and more complicated than you thought it would be - but might actually turn out better than you hoped. Bruce wanted things done right and enjoyed the problem-solving process like no other. In a world of specialized tradesman, he tinkered in many disciplines and saw invention opportunities everywhere.

Bruce Johnson senior photo

Bruce Johnson senior photo

He is survived by his wife, Norma Johnson; and their three children: Janell Eshleman (Mark), Janet Johnson and Adam Johnson (Kristin). Bruce was also fiercely proud of his four grandchildren: Nick (Melissa) and Peyton Eshlemann and Hannah and Kaitlyn Ditter. He is also survived by four siblings who were able to visit him in his last days: Sondra Aldegarie, Nancy Hathaway, Edgar Johnson and Royce Johnson. He was preceded in death by a brother, Lavern, in 1946.

The family will spread his ashes and leave random mechanical parts he was saving for his next project across eastern WA in his memory. If you find one, please do something creative with it! If you'd like to make a donation in his honor, may we suggest a scholarship fund at a trade school. Bruce would want to make sure the next generation knew how to make stuff, not just buy it.


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