Bernita "Bing" Johnson

Died: Tue., Apr. 25, 2017


Memorial Service

2:00 PM Sat., Apr. 29, 2017
Location: LaFollette's Chapel


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Music by The Piano Brothers


Bernita Louise Whitman was born July 3, 1934 to Charles and Rosa (Chrisler) Whitman. Her life was celebrated on Saturday, April 29th at LaFollette’s Chapel.  Bing made her way into the world in the back of a car near Paradise, KS.  She was the third daughter, with older sisters Betty Lou and Bonnie.  A brother joined the family, Bobby (also known as Butch).  He couldn’t pronounce his older sister’s name and Bernita became Bing.  That is the name most of us knew her by.
Charley worked in the oil fields in the late depression Midwest.  The family traveled often.  Rosa said she would pack for the next move only to have her kids “help” her and unpack them.  The Chrisler and Whitman families were close and Bing and her siblings spent a lot of time at family farms playing with cousins.  She attended a small rural school.  
When Bing was six Charley was killed in an accident.  For a time, Rosa tried to support the family in Kansas but later moved to New Plymouth, ID looking for a new start.  It was there she met and married Ralph Moss, a widower, who had a son, Clinton.  The blended family then moved to Hines, Oregon where Ralph worked for the Edward Hines Lumber Company.
Bing was active at school, apart from a year convalescence due to rheumatic fever.  She was a tomboy and played football with the neighbor kids, volleyball and softball at Burns Union High School.  She cheered at her brother’s basketball games.
Following graduation, Bing worked for Avel and Mae Diaz’s dry cleaning business.  It was there she met a young Air Force radar operator who had brought in uniforms to clean.  George (Pete) Johnson followed her home.  After a whirlwind courtship, the couple eloped in McDermitt, NV on September 22, 1957.
Following the birth of their first child, son Thomas, the couple moved to Pete’s hometown of Junction City, OR.  Daughters Barbara and Karen completed the family.  She worked for the Sears Catalog division in Eugene, OR and for the Junction City Monaco Motorhome factory for 25 years.  As the children grew, many of their friends called the Johnson residence their home away from home.  Bing also helped care for Pete’s parents in their declining years.
In 1997, Pete and Bing returned to Burns.  About 10 years ago she developed Alzheimer’s and spent her remaining days in Ashley Manor.
Bing always had a sense of humor, even when she tried to be angry.  It was fun to be a passenger in her car as she tried to find parking and would mumble and threaten under her breath.  If something struck her as funny she would laugh until tears, sigh, and start over again.  Once she laughed nonstop from Albany to Junction City over something that happened in a restaurant.  Thinking about it years later would get her going as if it had just happened.
The early stages of the disease did not stop her humor.  One day she walked out of her bedroom wearing a tablecloth as a cape and panties….and that was all.  Pete asked her if she thought she was Superman.  “No, I am Wonder Woman.”  She then ran around the house.  One Halloween she tried to give her great-grandson Jake doggy kibble in his trick or treat bag.  When he declined, she said, “Suit yourself” and helped herself.  She loved to goose people and losing her inhibitions to Alzheimer’s meant she had a pastime to share with everyone.
Bing’s hobbies was her family.  If Pete went fishing or hunting, she was there.  The two traveled to the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyons, and Mt. Rushmore.  She, her mom and daughter Barbara, drove back to Kansas to see relatives and the old homesteads.  A few years ago, Pete, Bing and the adult children took a trip to Yellowstone; it was the last family trip she got to make.  She played catch with Tom, until he broke her finger when she in her forties; and taught Barbara and Karen to cook and bake.  
She made the world’s best apple pies, spaghetti and potato salad. Her biscuits, however, weren’t so good. The only time she baked them Pete and Tom played floor hockey with brooms in the living room. She didn’t bake them again for about twenty years.  
Her other loves (in no particular order) were Patsy Cline (Cline’s greatest hits were played as guests arrived), NASCAR, the dogs the family had through the years, Daffy Duck, Black Hills gold jewelry bought at from her favorite jeweler, Mavis Oard;  
Bing is survived by her husband of 59 years George (Pete) Johnson of Burns; Thomas Johnson of Junction City, OR; daughter Barbara (William) Pearson of Pilot Rock, OR; daughter Karen (Felix) Zabala of Burns, OR; step-granddaughter Rebecca, grandsons Jed, Jesse, and Anthony and granddaughter Samantha; five great grandchildren; brothers Bobby (Butch) Whitman of Meridian, ID and Clinton Moss of El Paso, TX; several cousins, nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her father Charley Whitman, mother Rosa Moss, stepfather Ralph Moss, sisters Betty Lou Dealy and Bonnie Whitman.
Contributions in Bing Johnson’s memory can be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation.  Preston Jannsen (husband of Bing’s niece Willa Woodfin Jannsen) led the celebration.  A reception followed at the Harney County Senior Center.

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Condolence Booklet

Gene and Dorene Chrisler
   Posted Sat April 29, 2017
So sorry for your loss, our sincere condolences.


Clinton and Jennie Moss
   Posted Sat April 29, 2017
So sorry for your loss Pete, I miss my sister to.

Cathy Buhler Smith
   Posted Sun July 30, 2017
Dear Pete, Tom, Karen and Diane,
It is with great sadness to hear of a wonderful woman's passing! She was such a sweet lady. My mom was there to greet your mom at the Pearly Gates! Mom passed in October. You are all in my thoughts. Cathy (Smith) Buhler

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