Ronald L. Johnson passed away on Sept. 28, 2017 at Olathe Hospice House with his loving family at his side.
Ron was born in Malden, MO. on the 4th of July in 1939, the first of 3 children to Clarence and Eileen Johnson. As a young boy he felt very important because the entire town celebrated “his” birthday every year. Eventually he came to understand that he shared his birthday with another very important milestone, but his family always made his birthday extra special for him. Ron’s family moved back to their hometown of Verdon, NE where he spent most of his early years. During his adolescent years his family moved to Falls City, NE and then to Omaha when he was in high school.
Ron joined the Air Force at the age of 18 and served his country for 4 years. Ron was always honored and proud to have served his country. While in the service he worked as a mechanic on jets and performed KP duties when assigned. In later years when his children complained about helping prepare dinner, he would relate his KP experience peeling hundreds of potatoes for hours on end…Needless to say his children complained less and Ron developed a preference for baked potatoes.
It was during his years in the Air Force that Ron honed his engineering skills. He was gifted with the ability to visualize needs and construct solutions. He repaired anything and everything. He built part of his own home, remodeled rooms, repaired appliances, installed central air conditioners. You name it, he could do it. However, his passion was cars. He loved cars. He could fix any part of a car, engine or body. This skill came in handy when his children would blow out engines or have fender benders. As his kids grew and he had more time, he turned to restoring classic vehicles as a hobby. Some of his favorite restorations were a 1975 Cadillac Eldorado, a 1956 T-bird and a 1955 1st-series Chevy Pickup. In addition, he had a souped up 1929 Chevy Coupe kit car. Ron loved to share his classic cars with others and so would display them in car shows whenever possible. There were also times he was asked to drive them in parades, his favorite ones being when they lived in San Diego. In one parade, Shamu was the ride along (disclosure: Not the real Shamu).
It was also during his time in the service that Ron met the love of his life, Betty “Jean” Moffet. In 1957 Ron was stationed in Denver, CO. While not on duty he took a part time position at a movie theatre. Jean, who was engaged to someone else at the time, also worked at the movie theatre. As the story goes, they fell in love and married a few months later. Ron and Jean had their 60th anniversary on Aug. 18, 2017.
In 1958, Ron and Jean had their first child, Russell, who was born in Denver. From there the young Johnson family moved to Florida and then to New Mexico as Ron received new base assignments. After his 4 year enlistment was over, Ron decided to attend college. He moved his family back to Omaha where he attended college during the day and worked as a mechanic at a gas station at night to support his family, which now included his daughter Suzanne. Ron completed his Electrical Engineering degree at University of Omaha at the same time his 3rd and last child, Diane, was born. He started his professional career working as an estimator for an electrical contractor. In the early 60’s Ron and Jean moved their family to Kansas City where they lived for the next 20+ years.
Throughout his entire life, Ron had the uncanny ability to connect with people. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, he made you his friend. It was this ability, combined with his engineering mind, which led him to his life-long career...Sales. Ron started working as a salesman for manufacturers of electrical equipment, rising thru the ranks as manager, district manager and then on to owning his own manufacturing representative agencies in both San Diego and then in Las Vegas Nevada. He worked on some of the biggest projects in Las Vegas including the MGM Grand Hotel and the Luxor Hotel to name a few.
Ron was always adventurous and because of this, he and Jean were fortunate enough to live in some great places. In 1985 Ron took a job in San Diego, CA. They loved living there and enjoyed all it had to offer until they moved for another opportunity. In 1990, Ron bought an electrical manufacturer rep agency in Las Vegas NV. They lived in Las Vegas for the next 22 years. While there, they made some of the best friends of their lives. Ron and Jean returned to Kansas City (Olathe actually) in October 2012 due to Ron’s health.
Ron and Jean were lucky enough to experience some great adventures together. They traveled throughout much of the U.S including Hawaii and New York City (where they were on the Today show). In addition they visited Australia, New Zealand, all the major cities of Italy, Paris, London, Costa Rica and many trips to explore Mexico and the Caribbean. Colorado was always Ron’s favorite though.
Ron was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma in August of 2004. After surgery to remove his kidney, he had no sign of cancer until it metastasized to his lungs in Aug of 2010. It then metastasized again to his spine in Jan. 2014. Ron endured multiple procedures and experienced incredible pain during his illness. He rarely complained. He would just say he had a good or bad day. He was incredibly strong.
Ron’s family and friends know they will never again meet anyone like him. His passing is a terrible loss for all of us but we are better off for having him in our lives’.
Ron leaves behind his beloved wife of 60 years, Jean. His mother, Eileen Johnson of Jupiter, FL. His children, Russell Johnson (Pam) of KC, KS, Suzanne Patterson (Norman) of Lawrence, Diane Hansel of Lenexa. His much loved grandchildren, Chad Carson(Christina) Overland Park, Branden Patterson, Lawrence, Jessica(Jake) Bustillo, Lenexa, Megan Hansel, Dallas, TX, Evan Johnson(Hailey), Scranton, PA, . Two great-grandsons , Liam and Beckett Bustillo and a great-granddaughter Reese due Oct. 3, step great-granddaughter Savannah Caulder, sister Bonnie Whitten, Jupiter FL and brother Alan Johnson(Connie) of Moline, IL. In addition he leaves behind Peaches, his fur baby who stayed by his side until the end. Ron was preceded in death by his father, Clarence Johnson (2012),step- grandson Lee Patterson (2011) and son-in-law Craig Hansel (2015) and fur babies, Mork, Bo and Butch.
Ron’s family appreciates the kindness and help from many caregivers and friends. We would like to thank Dr. Van Veldhuizen, Dr. Clough, the many nurses and caregivers at Menorah Hospital, the caregivers at Olathe Hospice, especially Caroline and Christine. In addition, we want to thank Jennifer and Aaron Ferguson for helping Jean during Ron’s hospital stays and their KC friends (Ted & Arlene Horning) and (Mark & Joanie Terstriep) for your friendship and helping Ron to remain upbeat.
Please join his family in a celebration of Ron’s life on Sunday, October 8, 2017 from 2-4 at Penwell Gabel Funeral Home, 14275 Blackbob Road, Olathe, KS.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Cancer Research Institute, KC Pet Project or Olathe Hospice House.
In Ron’s honor please hug and cherish your family and friends and “Pay It Forward” whenever the opportunity arises.
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