BENKELMAN - Robert "Bob" W. Johnson, 78, peacefully passed from this life on Sunday, April 12, 2009, at Chase County Community Hospital in Imperial, Neb., after a valiant battle with Parkinson's disease.
At his request cremation rites were accorded and a memorial to celebrate his life will be Sunday, April 26, at Rainbow Fountain Park community room in Benkelman, Nebraska from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Bob was born July 11, 1930 in Lincoln, Neb., to Martha (Suddreth) and William Johnson. He grew up in Lincoln, graduated from Lincoln High School and later received a Bachelor's Degree in business from the University of Nebraska in 1952.
After graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, attended Officer Candidate School and married Virginia Roberts, also of Lincoln, on July 12, 1953. He served our country as a Navy Lieutenant responsible for the maintenance of F7 Cutlass jets on the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga.
After his discharge in 1956. he and Ginny returned to run the family farm near Hamburg, Iowa. During their years there they had three children together, Kevin (b. 1957), Kathleen (b. 1960) and James (b. 1961).
In 1962, he moved the family to Denver, Colo., and worked as a Vice President for the First National Bank of Denver. While living in Colorado, their fourth child, Michael (b. 1966) was born.
Later in 1966, he returned to Lincoln where he became a correspondent loan officer for the First National Bank of Lincoln. In his job he traveled throughout Nebraska and the surrounding areas extensively, working and assisting rural banks.
His knowledge of the geography of Nebraska was extensive and he developed many friendships during these years. These friends included Lee and Jo Gallatin of Benkelman and in 1976, he joined Lee to work at the State Bank as Executive Vice President, and later as President of Amfirst Bank until his retirement in 1992.
He and Ginny remained in Benkelman after retirement, traveling frequently, visiting friends and family, and spending winter months in Harlingen, Texas for several years.
He was a member of the Masonic Lodge, and belonged to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He served on the executive committee of the Nebraska Board of Banker's an accomplishment for which he was particularly proud.
During his years in Benkelman he contributed to the community as President of the Chamber of Commerce and participated on many other boards and committees including the Hester Home and Dundy County Hospital. He was also a proud member of the Ancient Order of Turtles.
Because of how he lived his life, Bob leaves a legacy to his family. His integrity and gentle sense of humor helped provide insight, direction and was nurturing to his children. He had a kind and honest philosophy about life that was respected and admired by his friends and family. He strived to live his life by the definition of a gentleman; making others around him feel as comfortable as possible.
Bob's love of nature and the outdoors included many years of family camping trips, fishing, hunting and vacationing to see new places and things. He was a knowledgeable sports fan (especially Nebraska Football) and counted many other interests during his life ranging from four-wheeling, to carpentry, to photography.
He is survived by wife, Virginia, his companion for more than 60 years. Also left to cherish his life are son, Kevin wife, Rosemary (Long) of Clive, Iowa and granddaughter, Sydney of Reno, Nev.; daughter, Kathy and granddaughter, Kimberly of Benkelman; son, Jim, wife, Mitzi (Hibben), granddaughter, Lea, grandson, Grant of Fort Collins, Colo.; son, Mike wife, Joy (Gary) and grandson, Ian of Kemah, Texas; sister-in-law, Phyllis Wasson of Henryetta, Okla.; and many other nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Richard Johnson of Minneapolis, Minn., in 2007.
A memorial fund has been established in Bob's name at Amfirst Bank, P.O. Box 606, Benkelman, NE 69021.
Arrangements are under the direction of Forch Funeral Chapel of Benkelman.