Life Tributes for the week of 08/06/19

James Leland Johnson

James Leland Johnson, or “Papa” as his grandkids lovingly called him, passed away July 9, 2019 in Susanville, California at the age of 67.

James was born July 23, 1951 to Harold Dean Johnson and Velma Lucille Johnson in Porterville, California, but spent his childhood in Toppenish and Prosser, Washington where he would play football with his younger brothers. He was their hero, and someone they could look up to. James also played football in high school as offensive/defensive lineman for the Prosser Mustangs, and his senior year the team won the state championship.

James met the love of his life, Mary Rattray, in Prosser, who he married and with whom he had two daughters, Lisa Marie and Christina Sue.

Fiercely patriotic, James served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He was very proud of the service he was able to give his country, and for the rest of his life would tell anyone that the Marines were the best of the best.

After his military service, James and Mary raised their family in Porterville, California where James’ beloved Uncle Cotton and Aunt Sue lived. At the Poplar Church of God, James met his best friend, Monte G. Dodd, and they remained close for his entire life. James enjoyed spending time fishing and golfing as well as watching his team, the Seattle Seahawks, play football. He was also a big fan of The Duke, and owned every John Wayne movie there was and often spent time watching them with his girls. There was nothing greater though, than his love for his family.

Later in his life, James moved to northern California to be near his two daughters and their children. It was his greatest joy to go watch their sports games or take them fishing, and he devoted himself to being the best grandfather he could be.

He would often tell those he met, whether they were friends or strangers, how he had the greatest grandkids of all time. He enjoyed making memories and keeping traditions with his family, such as watching “A Christmas Carol” (the one with George C. Scott was THE only correct version) every Christmas. His sense of humor was sarcastic, and he would often have his family in stitches at the blunt observations he made or the jokes he cracked. Even with his Marine-tough exterior, he was a kind and generous man. He would go above and beyond in making sure each and every one of his grandkids knew how much he loved them, and that he was their biggest fan. He would call them just to tell them he loved them and make sure they knew how great they were.

The hole that James leaves in the hearts of those who love him is huge, and his absence will be felt severely, but his family takes comfort in knowing that he knew how very loved he was and that he loved each of them so much in return. He was the most wonderful and adoring papa, a devoted dad, a loving big brother, a loyal friend, a proud American, and always a Marine.

James leaves behind his two daughters, Lisa Flores and Christina Lewis, his son-in-law, Jeff Flores; his six grandchildren, Megan Holley, Macee Flores, Matthew Flores, Nathan Lewis, Carli Lewis, and Coleton Lewis; his three great-grandchildren, Sawyer Flores, Asa Holley, and Everest Flores. He also leaves behind his mother, Velma Johnson; and younger siblings, Kenny Johnson, David Johnson, Renea Johnson Golden, and Richard Johnson; as well as aunts and uncles; and many nieces and nephews; and in-laws.

He was preceded in death by his father, Harold Johnson; and brother, Daniel Johnson. James will be laid to rest in the Prosser Cemetery with Mary.