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Johnnie W. Richardson

Johnnie W. Richardson, 82, passed away Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011, at home with his family present.

He was born on Jan. 14, 1929 in Tenant, Calif. a small logging community in northern California, John Woodcock and Gertrude Noble Richardson. They soon moved to Lakeview to pursue cattle ranching, where Johnnie attended elementary school on the eastside and westside. At one time, he drove a horse and sleigh, picking up neighbor kids as a young ‘school bus’ driver for the one-room school.

He attended and graduated from Lakeview High School and played football in the first game he ever saw. He lettered all four years, played in the first East-West Shrine game in Portland. After WWII with a full scholarship, he attended Oregon State College. It was at OSU that he met his future wife, Norma Adele Kennedy and they were married on Feb. 19, 1950, at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bend and made their first home in Valley Falls. It was to this union that Nancy Elizabeth and John Chester joined the family.

Madras became their home in late 1950, to work for Chet and Eleanor Kennedy, Norma’s parents, who were in poor health. In 1957, they bought the livestock and equipment with Norma’s brother. After buying him out in 1962, they purchased the ranch land and raised cattle until 1972 when TB was detected in the cow herd and were forced to dispose of the entire herd.

During his cattleman’s years, Johnnie was very active in Jefferson County Livestock and Oregon Cattlemen’s Assn. He was president, Cattleman of the Year and Father of the Year for Jefferson Co. and active in the Trout Creek Soil Conservation Service.

A new pursuit was soon formed with the agate business since the ranch had always been coveted by “Rockhounds”, but considered a nuisance. An article in the Lapidary Journal announced that people would be allowed to “dig” on a fee basis, for groups, reservations and weekends only. With so much interest, it was soon opened every day. Also during this phase, the Richardson’s raised game birds for their shooting preserve. In 1974, a small rock shop was built and in 1976, the famous Priday Thunderegg Beds which adjoined the Richardson property, were purchased. In 1980, Johnnie, Norma, and son John Chester, formed the Richardson’s Recreational Ranch Partnership.

Johnnie was baptized with his daughter Nancy, at St. Peter’s Cross Keys in 1952.

He joined the Masonic Lodge and Shrine, and was very active with Jobs Daughters and Demolay and Eastern Star. He was associate guardian of Jobs, Dad advisor of Demolay and twice associate patron of Eastern Star. He also organized dances for teens every Saturday during the summer with Demolay.

He led the Lyle Gap 4-H Club and was weigh master for the 4th County Fair livestock for 20 years. Young people were a great passion and he loved being associated with their activities. He was lovingly called “Johnnie Baby” by his Jobs.

Playing Bridge was a passion for both Johnnie and Norma. They were often accused of carrying a card table and four chairs in the truck of their car.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Johnnie is survived by wife Norma of 62 years; son and daughter-in-law John Chester and Bonnie at the home ranch; daughter and son-in-law Nancy and Dave Hall of Helena, Mont.; brother Edward of Lakeview; seven grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren;after nearly five years of 3-day a week kidney dialysis in Redmond, he considered the staff at the Fresenius Medical Center, his second family.

No funeral service is planned at his request.

Contributions are suggested to the Shrine Hospital For Children in Portland.


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