Wayne Johnson

Born: Mon., Feb. 13, 1922
Died: Sat., Jun. 28, 2014

Memorial Mass

11:00 AM Thu., Jul. 03, 2014
Location: Holy Family Catholic Church

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Wayne Johnson, 92 died on Saturday, June 28, 2014 at his home.  A Memorial Mass will be held on Thursday, July 3, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church.  Contributions in Wayne's memory can be made to the Harney County Senior Citizen Center in care of LaFollette's Chapel, PO Box 488; Burns, Oregon 97720.

Wayne was born Feb. 13, 1922 in Omaha, Nebraska to Oscar & Josephine “Josie” Armstrong Johnson.  He was their youngest child, his older siblings were Bernice who died at age 16 in 1921, a brother who died as a baby, Russell who was born in 1908 and died in 1994, and his sister, Dorothy who was born in 1913 and died in 1996.

Wayne was about 10 years old when his family moved from Nebraska to Payette, Idaho because of drought and dust-bowl conditions there.   “We was blowed out,” Wayne said.

From Payette, Oscar Johnson transferred from working in a feedlot to the Alvord Ranch east of Steens Mountain in Harney County. In 1932, Wayne age 10, his sister Dorothy and his mother Josie Johnson followed and Wayne was enrolled in grade school at Crane.  He graduated from Crane Union High School in 1941.

Wayne had many adventures and stories to tell.  He recalled his first summer spent on the Alvord Ranch as an exciting adventure for a 13-year old boy.  He said, “it was a wonderful place, they a creek running down off the hill through the place, through the milk house and there were frogs & everything, and there were-oodles of deer & quail around.  You’d go down in the field and you’d just about have to push the deer out of the road.”

Wayne would say, “I got to go with the buckaroos a lot, and I got to know the ranch pretty well.  And when I wasn’t doing that, when anybody came to the ranch I showed them around.  I was pretty important 13 years old, big hat and all”.

Wayne remembered Mustang Smith who used wild mustangs as teams for the haying equipment.  “He’d bring those mustangs in off the desert.  It took three of them to pull the mowing machine.  They’d have to wrestle those old ponies around and hook them up.  They wasn’t broke, they’d just hook them up and go with them.  That was fun to watch Mustang Smith, he was a wild man, that’s why they called him “Mustang.’”, Wayne said.

During the school year, Wayne and his family lived in Crane, Oregon. Wayne was paid $1 a day to help out at Floyd Presley’s store, the Crane Mercantile, before and after school.
“About two months before school was out, Joe Fine came into Crane looking for someone to cook at the Roaring Springs Ranch.  He got me into the Crane school dormitory when I was in the eighth grade, and my mother & dad went out to work at Roaring Springs.  Wayne and his sister, Dorothy, stayed in Crane and I worked in the store that summer and got a raise to $60 a month.”
     While he was in high school, Wayne spent his summers with his folks at Roaring Springs.  He remembers when Joe Fine first put the lawn in at Roaring Springs ranch headquarters and when the trees that are growing there today were just saplings.  He & his dad mowed the lawn with a push mower that was too hard to push through the tall grass.
After a couple of years at Roaring Springs, Wayne’s dad, who had immigrated to Nebraska from Sweden with his brothers, decided he wanted to go back to farm in Nebraska with family.  “My mother and I said “We’re not going with you.  We’re going to stay here.’ And we didn’t go and we survived.”  His mother, Josie died in 1963.
RANCH WORK:  After Wayne graduated from high school, he worked at Roaring Springs and at the Alvord Ranch until he was 23 or 24.  When the Alvord Ranch sold he worked a couple of months and then quit.  He went to Brogan to work for a while and then went to work at the feedlot at Payette, Idaho, cleaning the corrals with a tractor.
He didn’t like the damp foggy weather along the river and came back to Harney County, where it is sunny and dry. He returned to the Lawn area and was part owner of the Lawn Store with his sister, Dorothy, and brother-in-law.
Wayne did lots of buckarooing and other ranch work. He worked at the Roaring Springs for about 10 years until the Gill Cattle Company bought it.
He met Stella Able of Burns, Oregon and married in Winnemucca, NV on January 24, 1953 they were married for 46 years until her death in 1999.   They had no children.
Wayne had a few cattle, so he leased the Donald Otley place near Lawen for a few years.  He worked for Edward Hines Lumber Company for 4 or 5 years.  Wayne said, “Then I got itchy feet and wanted to get me a ranch job, so I went to work for Tommy Jenkins and stayed for 5 years.”

Wayne also worked at the experiment station and he and Stella helped his sister, Dorothy, run the Lawen Store after her husband died.  In the 1980’s, Lawen flooded and the Malheur Lake rose so high that there was water so high up to the back of the Lawen Store.  Wayne said, “ I put dikes up, but the water was so high in the basement that I saw the light bulbs floating.”  I said to Stella, it is time for us to get out of here.” So they moved into Burns.
He started mowing lawns in his later years to stay in shape.  He took care of his wife Stella during her 13 year battle with cancer.
Wayne married Rose Modey in February 2000 and gained more family with lots of grandchildren.  Wayne and Rose enjoyed retirement activities such as travelling, old-time fiddler’s music, and playing cards at the Senior Center.
Wayne is survived by his wife Rose of Burns, her many children and grandchildren.  His niece, Nancy Dowell of Redmond, his nephew Earl Carson and wife Shirley of Diamond
One of his last words of wisdom were, “You can choose to make your life happy or you can eat sour pie.”  
Family and Friends are invited to the graveside service following mass and the fellowship luncheon at the Catholic Parish Hall.

Charitable donations may be made in Wayne's memory to the following organization:

Harney County Senior Citizen Center

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Judy Teiken Berger
   Posted Tue July 01, 2014
Aunt Rosie and Family,

Our deepest sympathy to you and the family on the loss of Wayne. Everyone here in Minnesota send our thoughts and prayers your way.

Love and Condolences,

Betty Teiken and Family.

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