William Alfred “Bill” Johnson

William Alfred "Bill" Johnson

It is with heavy hearts that the family of Bill Johnson shares news of his passing in Nanaimo with his loving wife by his side.

Bill will be lovingly remembered by Geraldine (Gerry), his wife of 63 years; his children Jackie (Michael), Scott (Tierney), Mark (Jodie), and Gail (Peter); his sister, Doreen Seville; and siblings-in-law Glen Acorn (June) and Shirley Hamilton.

Bill was also adored by his grandchildren Antonia, Madison, Grace, Leah, Hartley, and Hale and several cherished nieces, nephews, and other relatives.

He was predeceased by his father, Harry Sigward Alfred; mother, Evelyn Lila Rose (nee Ramsey); and brother, David.

Born in Calgary in 1929, Bill earned his Bachelor of Law from the University of Alberta and was called to the Alberta Bar in 1955. That same year, he married Gerry, whom he met while driving a Brewster tour bus in Lake Louise and with whom he called Edmonton home for the next four decades before moving to Vancouver Island.

He practised general law with passion and conviction throughout Alberta for nearly 40 years. He was especially proud of being involved in the development of the basic legal principles and intellectual property underlying Canada’s New Home Warranty companies.

Among many other legal roles, Bill also acted as Legal Counsel to two Alberta premiers, was General Counsel to the New Home Warranty Program of Alberta for two decades, and was a chairman and member of the Law Society of Alberta’s Needy Litigant Committee, the forerunner of today’s Legal Aid System.

Bill’s lengthy community service record runs the gamut from being an Air and Sea Cadet in the early 1940s to acting as Counsel to the Canadian Mental Health Association from 1970 to 1988. In between, he was chairman and president of Alberta Social Credit League and was president of the Edmonton Family Service Association, laying the groundwork for Uncles at Large, and more.

Bill’s professional and community accomplishments pale in comparison to his dedication as a husband and father. Bill was the epitome of the father who “showed up” for his kids. He never missed a concert, recital, or game. He coached Scott and Mark’s Little League hockey teams for many years and served as an umpire during their baseball-playing days.

Bill also taught his four kids to ski and spent many memorable weekends on the slopes of Jasper and Banff, weekends where lasting memories were made. Despite a busy career, Bill prioritized family time and, while the kids were in elementary school, was home for three meals every day.

Among Bill’s personal passions was playing golf. He spent countless happy days at the Edmonton Country Club and later the Cowichan Valley Golf Club. His annual trips to the Jasper Park Lodge golf course were a personal highlight. Like many others, Bill was forever tinkering with his swing. Granted, every new swing looked exactly like the old swing, but he always believed it was going to create a breakthrough and take five strokes off his score, a hallmark of his trademark positive outlook. He did bring home five hole-in-one trophies.

He also loved taking his family on epic motorhome trips throughout the Rocky Mountains and beyond.

Bill’s passions extended to the skies and seas. In his 40s he earned a pilot’s licence with multi-engine, night, and class 2 instrument ratings. He once flew his family in a Cessna 310 from Edmonton to Ottawa for a vacation and, on a separate occasion, made a successful emergency landing after the plane’s landing gearing failed. He loved spending time on the water, whether navigating a small sailboat or dangling his feet off a dock.

A lifelong Edmonton Oilers fan, proud Canadian, and avid reader who could fix anything, Bill was always the life of the party. Well into his senior years he was affectionately referred to as the “world’s oldest teenager”. He loved his red wine and a good cigar, though he’d settle for a not-so-good one.

More than anything, he believed in kindness, good will, and the importance of family and loved ones.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Bill’s honour to a charity of your choice.

A celebration of life will follow. To be kept informed, please email gailjohnsonworks@gmail.com.

Cowichan Valley Citizen

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