Obituary for Jodean Johnson

Jodean Johnson was born in Phoenix, Arizona, on Oct. 1, 1945, to Fayburn and Mable Johnson.  He is the middle of three children.  His first name was an idea of his father, who liked the newscaster in Phoenix, Joe Dana.  He wanted to change things up a little and used the first and last name and came up with Jodean.  He used to joke about all the mispronunciations so he went by Joe.

Joe grew up in Phoenix and moved to Oregon the summer before his senior year of high school.  He developed a love for Oregon that would remain with him for the rest of his life.  He was #43 on the Mapleton Supersailors football team.  He also sang in the high school quartet called the Anchormen. 

Mapleton is where Joe’s love for fast cars began.  He purchased a new 1964 Pontiac GTO with a 389.  He said he drove it straight from the dealership to the tire shop and replaced the stock tires with a set of Tiger Paw tires. This is just one of many muscle cars, Jeeps, and trucks that he had over the years. He would light up when he told of all the street races and great times with friends in small-town Oregon.   

Joe took woodshop class very seriously and won the shop award his senior year.  He made an office desk, a podium for one of his teachers, and multiple projects around the school that were needed. This is where his love and confidence were developed for design and woodworking.  After high school, he moved back to Phoenix where he decided to sign up for the apprenticeship program with the Arizona Carpenters Union and began working full time during the day and going to night school for his formal training.  During his four years of apprenticeship training, he developed an impressive ability for taking a standard practice in rough framing and making it more efficient.  He completed his apprenticeship program and earned his Journeyman carpenter certificate.  He worked as a union carpenter for several years and then made the transition to self-employment.

Jodean Johnson

On March 8 of 1969, Joe and his friend were cruising Main Street in Mesa in his 1969 GTO when they noticed a nice little 1966 Chevy 2 Nova driven by a beautiful blonde lady and her friend.  That pretty blonde was Martha Williams.  Their meeting turned into a date and five months later in August they were married in Mesa and the journey began.

Through this journey, they were blessed with six children: Calvin, (twins) Julie and Judie (stillborn), Darrell, Toby, and Gayle.

Joe is known by many for his talent in building.  He was all about efficiency and perfection.  That meant no standing around.  He had a way of helping you stay motivated that was not very pleasant at the time but it was comforting to know he treated everyone fairly.  When the work was done for the day, he knew how to have fun and make the most of the moment. 

Joe worked on hundreds of projects throughout his life from custom homes, tract homes, commercial builds, remodels, and interstate bridges.  He took pride in his ability to find efficient framing crew members and give 100% of their ability on a project.  He thrived on the praise from homeowners, project managers, and engineers for his efficiency and ability to solve challenging design situations. 

Many times people would ask themselves, “how in the world did he do that?” He made work fun by seeing who could carry the most sheets of plywood at once, how many studs you could carry at once, and seeing how accurate you were with a nail gun when holding the action back and pulling the trigger.  

Joe had a love for the outdoors and the last few years of his life he loved spending time at his nephew’s cabin in Happy Jack, Arizona. Joe and Martha would take every opportunity to spend time in the pines and enjoy driving the roads looking for wildlife and soaking up the comforting quiet and relaxation of the mountain rim.  When he was younger, he spent time elk, deer, and turkey hunting. During the summers they would pull the camp trailer up to Ditch Camp.  The family would spend the week fishing, swimming, and playing, while he was in the Valley working.  He would come to join them on the weekend and always add to the fun.  Weekend trips to Sunflower to ride 3-wheelers, trips to Disneyland, the Queen Mary and SeaWorld, The Oregon Coast, were all a part of their family trips.  One of his claims to fame was the time they were in Las Vegas and he spotted Merle Haggard in a casino and visited with him for a minute and shook his hand. This was a special moment in his life.  

Joe loved having a fire in the fireplace; the thing is it usually doesn’t get very cold in Mesa.  So to solve that problem he would open the exterior doors of the house so it would be cold enough and then build a fire. Another memory is when there would be music playing in the kitchen and Joe would dance around with Martha or the girls.

Joe and Martha moved to Roseburg, Oregon, where they built a beautiful home on two acres. They enjoyed the Pacific Northwest for 17 years.  

Joe and Martha moved from Roseburg to North Dakota, where he drove a truck doing Hot Shot deliveries for the oil fields.  He enjoyed seeing new territory as he traveled through many states.  He liked driving his ¾ ton truck so he could stay, as he put it, “Low profile and incognito”. 

After two years in North Dakota, they moved to Midland, Texas, where he continued Hot Shot delivery work.  He shared his experiences of driving in Wyoming snowstorms, wildlife on the Texas roads, visiting with Cajun’s in Louisiana, a tire blowout and nearly rolling the truck, sharing pictures of the oil and gas refineries and drilling rigs, and trying new foods along the way!

Jodean Johnson

Joe and Martha then moved from Midland to Safford, Arizona.  His health began to challenge him the last five years of his life.  He dealt with crippling Rheumatoid Arthritis, Pulmonary Fibrosis, and had a knee replacement followed by a hip replacement.  Rheumatoid Arthritis was the most frustrating for him.  He hated seeing his hands deteriorate and weren’t able to be active anymore.  He loved driving his Jeep but had to turn the steering wheel over for others to give him rides.  Joe enjoyed the beauty of the cotton fields both when they were green and o bloom. He also enjoyed ranger rides on the West end of Mt. Graham, tin foil dinners while camping, holding his first great grandbaby, and seeing his children and grandchildren happy.  He loved talking about politics and playing YouTube videos really loud.  He was always himself, no phony show or production.  He didn’t care to be in the spotlight.  He loved good people, good food, and good music. 

He had a love and appreciation for his Savior Jesus Christ.  He was not ashamed to talk with others about his beliefs and had a motto that stated: “Know what you believe and why you believe it”.

Joe is survived by Martha Johnson (his wife of 52 years), Calvin and Stephanie Johnson (Thatcher), Julie and Chris Cook (Thatcher), Darrell and Adeline Johnson (Surprise, Arizona), Toby and Adrienne Johnson (Roseburg, Oregon), and Gayle Martinez (San Tan Valley, Arizona); sister, Barbra Johnson (Peoria, Arizona); 19 grandchildren, Christianna Johnson, Christopher Johnson, Hannah Johnson, Brendan Johnson, Colton Cook (Aubrey), Courtney Gillette (Jeremy), Dallin Cook (Taycee), Dalton Johnson, Wyatt Johnson, Emmett Johnson, Zebedee Johnson, Xander Johnson, Yrijah Johnson, Wakeen Johnson, Jacob Montijo, Magen Martinez, Trevor Martinez, Patrick Martinez, Samuel Martinez, and one great-grandchild, Easton Cook.

Jodean was a good man, not perfect, but a good man and loved by all.

Services will be held on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 11 a.m. at the Thatcher LDS Institute Building 871 N. College Ave., Thatcher, Arizona, 85552. To honor Joe’s wishes, the service will be casual dress and will be in the cultural hall.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Jodean Johnson Trade School scholarship fund. Jodean was a strong supporter of kids entering into the job force through the trades. This money will be given to youth in the Safford Arizona area in the form of a scholarship to help them with their education. Please note “Scholarship” in the memo area. @Martha-Johnson-215

Services are under the direction of McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel.

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