Richard “Dick” Ernest Johnson passed away on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 in Turlock, CA. Dick was born on August 29, 1935 to Henry Samuel Johnson and Edna Mae (Watson) Johnson in Modesto, CA. He lived in the Merced County area most of his life and grew up in Gustine, moving to Stevinson by his high school years and went to Hilmar High School. While at Hilmar High, Dick was active in the marching band and was a sports fanatic. He played football, baseball, and basketball. Baseball and football were his passions! After graduating from Hilmar High in 1953, he went to Modesto Jr. College before transferring to San Jose State.
He married Judy Ann (Bird) Johnson in June of 1964. Together they had two children: LeAnn (Johnson) Henderson and Lynn (Johnson) Bull.
Dick was a “jack of all trades.” He owned the only gas station in Stevinson for years, a Standard station at the time and Standard was later purchased by Chevron. Dick worked for Ken Nelson Pools for years after closing the gas station and retired from Nelson’s after an industrial injury. Dick could fix anything, from a car to any motor, to building various things, and tinkering with anything that needed fixing. For those that spent any amount of time with Dick, you know he was a jokester and had a weird saying for EVERYTHING! His quick wit and one-liners are what we remember him most for!
Dick’s joy in life was from coaching sports. He started coaching in the late 1970s and coached up until the early 1990’s. He was proud to be part of the Hilmar High School coaching staff for both football and baseball. Dick loved sports and cared about each athlete he was mentoring, providing both skill and understanding of the fundamentals of the game, but also the humor to get them through the tough times. Dick handed down his knowledge of the game when he could and mentored hundreds of athletes over the years. He was proud to be part of the Hilmar Football Legacy and talked proudly about being part of the program. He made lifelong friends and to this day, Dick’s family is grateful for the friendships that were forged and the welcoming “sports family” he was in. He was very proud of the kids who moved up the ranks at Hilmar High School to ultimately take over the program.
In 2008, Dick attended the Hilmar High School Class of 1953 class reunion, his 55th class reunion! As fate would have it, he was reunited with his high school sweetheart, Bertie (Balentine) Penn. They were inseparable and Bertie was Dick’s “partner in crime”, two peas in a pod and starting over just like no time had passed. Dick’s world revolved around Bertie and he was (again) head over heels. He referred to Bertie as “the love of his life” and was his life partner for the remainder of their lives.Dick and Bertie spent 12 years together after that fateful class reunion and shared such great quality time together. Bertie was a godsend to Dick, and both were so happy to find each other again.
Dick was preceded in death by his life partner, Bertie Penn; his parents, Henry and Edna Johnson; his sister, Ella Cain; and his niece, Brenda Lafaille.
Dick is survived by his daughters, LeAnn (Stephen) Henderson and Lynn (Tracy) Bull; his three granddaughters, Ariel Brockwell, Montana Bull, and Madison Bull; and his nephew, Bruce (Debbie) Cole.
A memorial service is being held for Dick at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, August 29, 2022 at Turlock Funeral Home. A reception will follow on the lawn. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Dick’s name to the Hilmar High School Athletics Programs, 7807 Lander Ave., Hilmar, CA 95324.