Richard Charles Johnsen, of The Dalles, Ore., died on Sunday, October 11, 2015, at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. He left this world, as he lived his life, surrounded by the love of his family. He was 84.
Rich was born in Tacoma, Wash., on December 31, 1930 to Hannah and Charles Johnsen, of Sumner, Wash. The youngest son of Norwegian immigrants, he grew up on his family’s farm with brother Knute and sisters Thelma and Irene. He attended Sumner schools and graduated from Sumner High School in 1948. He then went on to the University of Washington, but returned to the family farm in 1949 when his father became ill.
Rich joined the United States Navy as a seaman recruit in January 1951 during the Korean War, and served primarily onboard the U.S.S. Thompson, a destroyer minesweeper. After being honorably discharged from the Navy in 1954, he returned to Washington state and the University of Washington. In 1958 he was one of two charter graduates of the new UW College of Fisheries receiving a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries. He then began a 40-year career in fisheries biology, working first aboard fishing and research vessels in the Aleutians, and then for the National Marine Fisheries Service, part of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This work led to fisheries research assignments on juvenile salmon migration in Astoria and the Columbia River estuary. His research and management strategies are credited with contributing significantly to the protection and preservation of salmon and other fish populations on the Columbia River.
While at the University of Washington, he met the love of his life Mildred “Buzz” Oules, of Preston, Wash. The two were married on April 16, 1955. Throughout their 60 years of marriage, they lovingly raised three children: Erik Leonard, Juli Randall, and Andrew Knute.
They made their homes in Sumner, Wash., Astoria, Ore., The Dalles, Ore., Port Angeles/Sequim, Wash., and then back to The Dalles. They traveled throughout much of North America, from Alaska to Florida and Hawaii.
They made trips to Europe, including a “mail boat” cruise up the coast of Norway to Tromso, where they found the birthplace and home of Rich’s father; another meaningful trip was to the D-Day Memorial in Normandy, France.
Rich led his life with a quiet but powerful spirit of service to others.
Among his long list of charitable and community commitments were the Boy Scouts of America, the Lions Club, both in The Dalles and Port Angeles--where in 2012 he was honored to receive the “Melvin Jones Fellow Award, for dedicated humanitarian service.” Rich was also a dedicated, life-long member of the United Methodist Church; a volunteer with Sequim Community Aid; and served as a master gardner through the Oregon State University Extension Service.
To all who knew him, Rich was a kind, patient, and generous man. His deep faith centered him on serving others, never drawing attention to himself, and always seeking out--and building up--the good in others.
He loved to hunt and fish, and whether working a stream for steelhead or rangeland for a pheasant, he taught his children that one of the best attributes to have is patience.
Richard is survived by his wife, Buzz; children Erik Johnsen and his wife Laurie, Juli Johnsen and her husband William Papp, Andrew Johnsen and his wife Wende Dwyer-Johnsen; six grandchildren Doug and Beth Rowley, Laura and Erika Papp, and Ian and Christian Johnsen; and numerous beloved nieces and nephews. A memorial service celebrating Rich’s life will be held on Saturday, October 24, 2015, at 1 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, in The Dalles, Ore. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Lions Clubs of The Dalles. Ore., or of Port Angeles, Wash., or the United Methodist Church.
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