Ronald Johnson, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend, was surrounded by family when he embarked on his final flight on Dec. 29, 2023, after a long and full life.
Ron and his twin brother, Rod, were born on a beautiful May day in Wallace, Idaho, to Richard and Naomi “Pat” Johnson. His mother and father had been en route from Stevensville, Mont., to visit Richard’s mother in Spokane, Wash. Not realizing that she was carrying twins, Pat was taken by surprise when she went into labor on May 18, 1932. Later, the family grew to include another set of twins, Janet and Joan, as well as another son, Charles. Ron and Rod spent a portion of their youth in two children’s homes - the Spokane Children’s Home and the Deaconess Home in Helena. Ron and Rod were extremely close and the best of friends, relying upon each other not only during their challenging early years but throughout their entire lives.
In 1950, Ron enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was stationed on Guam when the war broke out in Korea. He served in Korea, stationed in Inchon, until he was honorably discharged in 1953. Upon his return from Korea, Ron worked for Buttrey Foods in Harlem, Malta and Chinook. He met his beloved wife, Marilee Chapman, while working in Chinook. They were married at the Presbyterian Church there on Dec. 19, 1954. Ron and Marilee lived all over the state before finally settling in Wolf Point in 1965. Together, Ron and Marilee had three children, Ronald “Dean” born in 1955, Dawn in 1956 and Lance in 1962. Marilee succumbed to cancer in 2000 and Dean passed away in 2020.
Ron and Marilee owned a propane company before Ron realized that he “would rather work with his brain than with his back.” Becoming a Montana Highway Patrolman in 1963 led to a 25-year career in law enforcement, with Ron working his way up to the rank of Sergeant. While in the Highway Patrol, Ron discovered his great love of flying, earning his pilot’s license. Ron became a “Bear in the Air” for the Patrol. He