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Merle Walter Johnson September 13, 1929 - February 17, 2021

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Merle W. Johnson, 91, passed away on February 17, 2021 in Mesa, AZ after an extended illness
and complications due to Covid-19. Merle was born in Brisbane, ND to William A. and Jean
Johnson on September 13, 1929. He grew up in Chehalis, WA, graduating from Chehalis High
School in 1947. After high school, Merle moved to Seattle to attend business college, where he
earned his CPA certification. Shortly thereafter he was drafted into the Army and served two
years in the Army’s Financial Corps during the Korean War. Following his military service, he
went to work at Western Electric and worked there until his retirement in 1982. He was a life
member of The Telephone Pioneers of America, and regularly attended Broadway Christian
Church in Mesa, AZ.

Merle was a dedicated family man and always made time for his kids, grandkids and great
grandkids. He also had a passion for entertaining and traveling. It was always 5 o’clock
somewhere. Merle’s hobbies and interests included collecting German beer steins and Italian
glassware, and he was an avid reader—especially biographies and books about WWII. After his
marriage to Barbara in 1976, Merle took an active interest in her button-collecting, and enjoyed
attending conventions and meeting other collectors from around the country. Some of his more
memorable travels included backpacking through Europe with his kids in 1974, touring England
and Scotland in 1980, an extended road trip across the U.S. and Canada in 1982, tours of New
Zealand and the South Pacific in 1985, and seeing western Europe in 1999. Merle’s final trip was
in 2017, when his late daughter, Jan arranged and accompanied him on the “Honor Flight” to
Washington DC.

Merle is survived by his wife of 44 years, Barbara; his daughter Diane (Jim) Olsen and son
William Johnson from Merle’s first marriage to Lorraine; stepdaughter Deborah (Jon) Stinson
and stepson Bruce (Patti) O’Donnell; grandchildren Mark Olsen, David Olsen, Julie Olsen,
Amanda Hoffman, Robbie Stinson, David O’Donnell, Jason O’Leary, Kathy O’Leary, John O’Leary;
8 great-grandchildren, and many relatives and great friends. He was preceded in death by his
parents, his brother Darwin, his daughter Jan Olson, stepson Dale O’Leary, and two

In lieu of flowers, donations may
be made to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center or The Alzheimers Association.

Merle will be interred at the National Memorial Cemetery, near Phoenix,  March 29, 2021. Following there will be a gathering for family and friends on the patio at  Bridie's Restaurant in Fountain of the Sun Community, Mesa, AZ.


  1. REPLY
    duane Johnson says

    Happy memories seem to override the grief; My “Unc” played such an important role in my life, especially my early years. I know that I will miss him but I know that part of him will always be with me. You were a fortunate person if you knew him. May he rest in peace.

  2. REPLY
    Deborah says

    Going through all the photos, I realized what adventures you two had in your 44+ years of married life! You certainly had more good times than bad. When I look at all the pictures, it helps me to remember him as he was in the first 40 years of your life together. That, plus his faith in God, puts more gladness than sadness in my heart, and I hope it does yours, too. Love you!

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