After a prolonged battle with several medical conditions, Melvin E. (Bud) Johnson, Sr. passed peacefully at his home in Stevensville on October 22, 2010 with loved ones by his side. Mel was born in Magnolia, Illinois to Ida and Bert Johnson on March 9, 1922, the fourth of 10 children. He joined the CCC as a teenager and traveled to California, where he found employment at Napa Valley wineries and joined the National Guard in 1940.
During WWII, Mel kept expecting to ship overseas but remained stateside. He was a vehicle driver in San Francisco and at Ft. Ord; a gunner for an anti-aircraft unit in San Diego; did KP duty at Camp Beale; and transported injured Army personnel at Ft. Lewis, WA and Hoff General Hospital in Santa Barbara. He met the love of his life Aileen Lowell at a San Francisco USO dance and they married a few months later on February 14, 1943.
After his army discharge in 1945, Mel settled with Aileen’s family in San Jose, where he worked as a blacksmith for Aileen’s father. He went to welding school and worked at Food Machinery & Co. (FMC) building armored personnel carriers, working his way up and retiring as a maintenance department shift supervisor in 1987. Mel and Aileen began splitting their time between California and Montana, and in 1991 they permanently moved to Stevensville to be close to their daughter. Family meant everything to them, and they always looked forward to visits and phone calls with loved ones.
Mel loved to tinker, and whether a problem was mechanical, electrical, or structural, he could usually figure out how to fix it. Mel liked to cook and to travel, even if it was just a drive to Missoula. He loved animals, music, and nature and enjoyed numerous family camping trips over the years. After Aileen passed in 2004, he enjoyed meeting friends for coffee and attending his great granddaughters’ sporting events. He was an active member of his church and an American Legion member for 23 years.
Besides his wife Aileen, Mel is preceded in death by his parents; brothers Harold, Berdette, Albert, Raymond, and Carl; sisters Delpha and Joyce; and his son Melvin E. (Sparky) Johnson, Jr. He is survived by his brother John (Delores) of Los Molinos, CA; sister Luticia Mowers of Alvin, IL; daughter Sue (Ron) Falk of Stevensville; daughter-in-law Margie (Bob) Fooshee of Sonora, CA; grandchildren Mandy (Eddy) White, Debbie (Scott) Byrne, Jeanie Falk, Tammy (Rob) Case, and Ed (Jill) Johnson; great grandchildren Mark, Courtney, Megan, Zack, Shannon, Zane, Kyle, and Justin; and a multitude of nieces, nephews and friends.
Visitation is from 2-8pm Monday, Oct. 25 at Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville, with family available from 7-8pm. Services will be held at the funeral home on 2pm Tuesday, Oct. 26. Internment with military honors will take place at Madronia Cemetery in Saratoga, CA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 203 Main St, Stevensville MT 59870 or to American Legion Post #94, PO Box 795, Stevensville MT 59870.