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Harold A. Johnson Jr.

Posted: Friday, Sep 28th, 2012


Harold A. Johnson Jr. journeyed home to be with his Lord on September 23rd 2012. †His last week was spent at the Aromas home he enjoyed for many years. He was surrounded by family. †After a very active and productive life Hal passed away at 89 years of age.

Born on January 30th 1923 in Riverside, CA to Harold Johnson Sr. and Mary T Johnson. †Hal was raised in Santa Barbara CA with his brother Lyle. Upon graduating from Santa Barbara High School he attended Santa Barbara City College followed by The University of California at Davis. His time at Davis was interrupted by WWII . He enlisted in the Army and spent his service in Europe then landed in Japan at the end of the war. Hal was the first GI to climb to the top of Mt.†Fujiyama. This adventure made for great stories told to his children and their children.

Hal returned to finish his undergraduate degree at Davis. Then later while raising a family and working he obtained a Masters Degree in Plant Pathology at the University of California at Berkeley. During his time at Berkeley he was mentored by the late Dr. Steven Wilhelm. Dr. Wilhelm remained a lifelong friend and advisor in Hal's plant breeding career.

Hal married Barbara Laughlin in 1951 and enjoyed a marriage that lasted 48 years until her death in 1998. †They raised four children in Gilroy and Watsonville. Barbara and Hal lived for many years in the former O O Eaton home on San Juan Road in Aromas, CA. Hal leaves behind children: Sylvia Spates of Los Altos (her late husband Paul Spates), Barry Johnson, his wife Ann Johnson of Palo Alto and grand children Blake and Laura; Jody Raines and her husband Aaron Raines of Selma OR, and Heidi (deceased).

In 2000 Hal married Judith Hansen. They shared the home on San Juan Road and similar working careers in plant research and breeding. Hal leaves behind his beloved wife Judy Johnson, his step children Jenny Garley of Santa Cruz and Alex Hanson (his wife Anjali) of Aromas and grandchildren Julia, Olivia, Milan and Katherine.

Hal's career and passion in the field of plant breeding led to much success focused mainly on developing new strawberry varieties. †His Patents for the varieties Heidi and Commander lead to world wide acclaim in his field. His last years work focused on blackberry breeding. In 2011 and 2012 he patented two important varieties.

He served for many years as Vice President of Driscoll Berries acting as head of Research. †Hal issued over 40 strawberry patents during the time with Driscoll Berries.

Upon retirement be began an independent blackberry breeding program partnering with Plant Sciences Inc. of Watsonville CA where he worked until his last days. Hal and his wife Judy traveled worldwide as part of Plant Sciences Global Berry Development. They conducted plant trials and along the way formed deep relationships while mentoring others in plant breeding and farming. Hal's hard work ethic lasted a lifetime.

Hal's active Christian faith involved participation in University Baptist Church of Santa Cruz,†Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center, Young Life and his local †"Go With God Group" that met for over 35 years. His last years he enjoyed attending the Aromas Bible Church.

Hal was a man of character and his faith in God was the foundation of his life and actions. †He loved his family, faith, work and country.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that a memorial gift be given to one of the following:
Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center (www.mounthermon.org), Young Life: SF Bay Region Camp Legacy Fund (www.younglife.org), or Lifesong For Orphans, a charitable organization teaching berry growing skills in Zambia and the Ukraine (www.lifesongfororphans.org)

A private family interment will precede the memorial for Harold A. Johnson Jr.on October 28th at 2:00 pm at Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center , Mount Hermon, CA. Arrangements were entrusted to Mehlís Colonial Chapel, Watsonville.

For the complete article see the 09-29-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 09-29-2012 paper.


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