Paul T. Johnson, 89, of Sidney, passed away Friday, March 20, 2020 at the Sidney Health Center. Paul was surrounded by family when he succumbed to cancer after a nearly three-year battle.
Paul was born August 20, 1930 at Sidney Memorial Hospital in Sidney, MT, to Carl and Prudence Johnson.
Paul attended Sidney Public Schools and worked alongside his brother, Hubert, and father Carl, as a young boy helping at the family business, Johnson Hardware and Furniture. Paul graduated from Sidney High School in 1948.
He graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. Following college, he worked for Sears Roebuck in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he worked alongside and met the love of his life, Barbara May Richardson. They met on Jan. 31st of 1955, were engaged three weeks later and married on July 2, 1955. The happy couple celebrated their 63rd Anniversary in 2018. They were blessed with four children: Kristine, Linda, Eric and Philip.
Paul was drafted into the US Army shortly after being married and was stationed in Germany as a Company Clerk before being recalled to the states following his father’s death in 1957.
He returned to Sidney and joined brother Hubert at the family business. The two brothers worked together and expanded the business over the course of several decades, until Hubert retired in 1996 when the business was taken over by the next generation.
Paul was a strong supporter of the Sidney community and was active in many local civic organizations. He was a 50+ year member of the Sidney Kiwanis Club and was an avid salesman for the annual Kiwanis Apple Sale, following in his father’s footsteps. Paul was also a 50+ year member of Sidney’s Masonic Lodge, Lower Yellowstone Lodge #90. He was also a long-time member of the Richland Shrine Club and the Elks Lodge. Paul proudly carried his father’s US flag in the annual Memorial Day Parade every year until he was no longer physically able to do so.
Perhaps Paul’s greatest contribution to the Sidney community was his founding of a local chapter of Dollars for Scholars, a nationwide philanthropy providing college scholarships for deserving graduating seniors. Paul believed strongly in higher education and worked diligently to build the Sidney Dollars for Scholars Chapter here in Richland County. Since its inception in Sidney in 1991 the organization has awarded more than $529,000 in scholarships to more than 900 local high school graduates.
He was a lifelong and active member of the Lonsdale United Methodist Church in Sidney. He was baptized in the church, as were all his children; two of his children were married there; he sang in the church choir for decades; he was active in church administrative duties and served for many years as the Superintendent of Sunday School.
Paul and his bride enjoyed traveling the world, but no place was more special to them than Poipu Bay in Kauai, Hawaii. They traveled to Hawaii every year for more than 30 years. The couple enjoyed seeing the world from a cruise ship, having visited nearly every continent. Over the course of their lives they spent many years traveling the world.
Paul’s favorite activity, other than travel, was golf. The Sidney Country Club was his home away from home, but he didn’t have to go far. He built a home adjacent to the 18th fairway in 1980 and spent the next 39 years playing in his backyard. He played his last round in 2019 with his son Philip, brother Hubert and grandson Blake Philip Johnson.
Paul’s children and grandkids have many, many special memories: riding in the back of Dad’s pickup on the way to the swimming pool; overly competitive card games with questionable ethics; family vacations to Disney and Hawaii; trips to Minnesota every summer to work the Hardware Convention in Minneapolis followed by family time in either the Detroit Lakes area or the Brainerd-Lakes area. All the Johnson kids and grandkids who grew up in Sidney worked in the family business. Paul was known by all his grandchildren as Bumpa. He loved making Bumpa’s special malted milkshakes for all the family.
Paul is survived by his children Kristine (Blaine-Chip) Gifford; Linda (Jim) Heins; Eric (Stephanie) Johnson; and Philip (Joy) Johnson; 16 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren (so far); and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife and parents.
A memorial service for Paul will be planned for sometime in the summer, when large gatherings are once again allowed. Fulkerson Stevenson Funeral Home of Sidney will be in charge of arrangements. The family asks that memorials be donated in Paul’s name to Sidney Dollars for Scholars. The address is PO Box 1302, Sidney, MT.
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