James Johnson

James “Jim” Edward Johnson was born to James and June (Schuman) Johnson in Camp Douglas Wis., July 27, 1937.
The family moved quite often, with James Sr., along with other family members following the construction boom of the time. Jim often stated that he never attended the same school for more than a year.
In 1946, the family moved to California, where he later graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 1955. He also attended college for a time, working toward a degree in civil engineering.
Jim and his friends were members of a Santa Rosa car club, where Jim proudly showed off his white and red Dodge, with the front end lowered to barely clear a pack of cigarettes and with an interior of red “rolled” upholstery.
Anxious to join the “family business” Jim left college to begin his career as a heavy equipment operator, becoming an enormously proud member of the Operating Engineers Union Local 3.
In 1958 Jim enlisted in the Army. He met Joan Warren at Zesto’s hamburger stand across from Santa Rosa Junior College. They married in July 1959 and quickly had three children.
Jim was in the Army Corps of Engineers, spending time in Texas and Louisiana, as well as Okinawa, Japan. He was honorably discharged in 1961 and went back to work in construction. After living in Santa Rosa and Placerville, Calif., Jim and Joan settled in Novato, Calif. Jim told his kids that wherever they settled they would stay as he did not want his children changing schools like he had. The family enjoyed annual camping trips in Big Basin to the south and Indian Springs to the north and visiting family in San Diego, Calif.
After Jim and Joan divorced, Jim settled in Guerneville, Calif. There he met Charlotte Staub in 1990 and they married in 1991. Together they raised Charlotte’s two sons from a prior marriage. They enjoyed improving their property in Mays Canyon and traveling.
Jim retired in 1998. While on vacation touring various state and national parks, Jim and Charlotte visited Custer State Park in South Dakota. They immediately fell in love with the area, so much so that they permanently relocated to Custer in 2000. They quickly acclimated to the area, making good friends and being active in their community.
Jim was an avid reader who would often go to the library and come home with an armful of books, which he would proceed to read in a matter of days. He loved museums of all sorts, particularly aviation. While not a licensed pilot, Jim did “co-pilot” the various airplanes owned by Jim Sr.
Jim loved being tour guide to all the friends and family who visited Custer. The windshield of Jim and Charlotte’s car always had an annual pass to Custer State Park. They often drove through the park to enjoy the quiet along with the buffalo and beautiful sunsets.
Jim was outgoing and friendly and would make friends with everyone he met. He took up woodworking and crafted beautiful rocking horses and other toys for his great grandchildren. In recent years he became active in his church in Custer and enjoyed a close relationship with his Lord.
Jim passed May 1, 2024 surrounded by his family. He was 86.
Jim was a big personality and he will be missed by those who knew him.
He is survived by his loving wife, Charlotte; children, Julie, Jeff (Kathy), Jill, Stuart (Patricia) and Benjamin (Sarah); grandchildren, Samantha, JaBrawna, Sabrina and Celise; six great-grandchildren; sister, Terry; nieces, Pamela (Walt) and Pauline (Bill); and grand-niece Melissa.
At Jim’s request, no service will be held but the family will be scattering his ashes at a later date.


User login