Bigger than life Mike

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Mike JohnsonI got the call on Saturday afternoon. He’s gone! Who, Mike? …Yes.

Mike Johnson was bigger than life.  In a room, he was one of those magnetic people that others cluster around.  In his conservation district, Mike drove conservation forward.

He was “fish fear him” Mike.  It was his love of fishing that eventually brought him to his conservation work.

Here’s a guy who took a job doing snorkel surveys in coastal streams…in the winter.  We’re talking cold, wet, wild country.  Black bear and cougar country.  Oh, and Mike didn’t know how to swim.

Gutsy, fearless Mike.  The kind of fellow who finds ways to make things happen.

He was also do-you-need-a-cookie Mike when his blood sugar got a little too low.  Always a good sport about it, and quietly appreciative for the occasional assist.

Then there was the annual meeting banquet where he started getting a little raucous.  Many of us have done that.  The next morning he was sheepish Mike, but also grateful Mike.

Stoic Mike, the man who lost a teenage son in a freak four-wheeler accident.  His pain slowly dribbled out of his heart long afterwards.

And gimpy Mike, after an infection resulted in the loss of part of a leg.  That would slow down most of us, but not Mike: he kept on plugging.

Mike_Johnson-at_Sleeping_Lady-2012He was “he who does meetings” Mike, too.  He enjoyed his conservation district board members very much; whenever we talked, he updated me on how they were doing.  Some of the other meetings he endured because it moved his local conservation mission forward.  Maybe he enjoyed those, too, but he talked mostly about his great board members.

Occasionally he’d call to talk about some way to make things better in his district.  Always looking forward: that’s Mike.  I treasure the trust he gave.

He was leap-off-the-edge Mike, too, with the way he embraced a leadership training program, bringing his own brand of focus and laughter to the proceedings.  An uncommon leader.

Caring Mike, who loved his daughters like nobody’s business.  He wasn’t afraid to shout it, either.  That’s a man.

In the face of adversity, he laughed.  Confronted by challenges, he did not flinch.  Stepping into the unknown, he did so with confidence.  Dogged.  Determined.

Bigger than life Mike.  Despite the trials, always came up smiles.  Mike, your example made me a better person.

I will miss you.


The following information was added to this post on February 10, 2013.

The Daily World published Mike’s obituary on February 7, 2013. I post part of that obituary below to help retain this information for those who knew Mike.

Michael Allen Johnson, 41, of Raymond passed away on Saturday, February 2, 2013, at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia. Michael was born April 13, 1971, in Aberdeen to Linda (Johnson) Edinger.

He was very involved with salmon recovery and worked as the manager for the Grays Harbor and Pacific Conservation Districts. He served on and was actively involved in the AgForestry Class 35 since October; Washington Coast Marine Advisory Council since 2011; Pacific Coast Marine Resources Committee Coordinator since 2006; Washington Coast Sustainable Salmon Partnership (vice chairman/planning) since 2006 and also the Willapa Bay WRIA #24 head entity coordinator since 2001. He was a member of the Raymond Elks Lodge #1292.

Mike loved being outdoors fishing and hunting and enjoyed baseball, basketball and spending time with his family. He lived life to its fullest and once while riding horses he fell off the horse but his prosthetic leg stayed in the stirrup as the horse trotted away. His favorites quotes were, “Live, love, laugh”; “It is what it is”; “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight it’s the size of the fight in the dog”; “Never, ever give up”; “Don’t mistake kindness for weakness”; and “There is a greater purpose in life than just me”.

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5 thoughts on “Bigger than life Mike

    1. Tom Post author

      I know this hit you like it hit me: like a punch in the gut. Hang in there, and of course let me know if there is anything I can do to help the two districts.

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  1. Darlene Parmelee

    I didn't know Mike personally but I knew of him and saw him alot at the ball field. Several of my friends knew him and loved him tremendously. May you forever rest in peace Mike.

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    1. Missy Cain

      Thank you, couldnt have put it into more true words than this. I went to high school w/Mike, graduated together and was blessed w/ the opportunity of working w/him at the conservation district for a summer. He was all around just a nice, caring person and compassionate about the conservation district. I had spoke w/him a week prior to him passing and was in such great disbelief when I heard the news, I am sad for his beautiful children, family and everyone that new him...may he rest in peace and never be forgotten....

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      1. Tom Post author

        I feel very fortunate to have chatted with him a few months ago, because I took that opportunity to tell him how much I admired and enjoyed him. We don't tell each other enough how much a person means to us!

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