Chester Johnson

Obituary of Chester F. Johnson

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Chester F Johnson 1936-2023 Chet passed away quietly at his home in Lakeport on June 2nd, with his children lovingly watching over him. He was an only child, born in Upper Lake, California in November 1936, to Franklin “Frank” and Frances “Frankie” Johnson of Nice. He was raised on the shores of Clear Lake, at what was then Laurel Beach Resort in Nice. Chet could swim at six months old. As a child, he developed a love of building engines. At 12 years of age, Chet rebuilt an old Model A flatbed truck that is still in the family today. It still runs! Chet graduated from Upper Lake High School in 1954. That Fall, he joined the military. Chet was a proud Navy "Seabee" Veteran, having taken part in building a Naval Air Station and airstrip in Subic Bay, Philippines. Upon his return to the states, the GI Bill sent Chet to San Francisco's Heald College of Engineering. He roomed with his best friend Clyde Morrow. Clyde introduced Chet to his girlfriend's best friend, Fay. It was not long before Chet quit school, came home, and married her. Clyde married his girlfriend Martha and the four were lifelong friends. In later years, Chet would say he could not imagine working in an office environment and was incredibly happy that he chose to be a mechanic. His father was Lake County’s Road Commissioner/Surveyor. His disappointment that his son would not follow in his footsteps was soon replaced with the joy of three grandchildren. In the 60s and 70s, Chet was truly fortunate to work for Ed and Charlotte Brown at the Bar B Marina in Nice, directly across the street from his family home. He had great love and respect for Ed Sr. and thought of him like a second father. Chet built and repaired boat engines and motorcycles for many years at Hillside Honda in several locations. There was not an engine made that he could not repair or an engineering problem he could not solve. In later years he built several homes and a church with his brother-in-law, Richard, and son David. He loved the time he spent building race cars with his sons. After selling the Nice property to Len and Lorraine Bassignani, (Featherbed Railroad Bed and Breakfast was born!) Chet and Fay retired to their cabin in the woods on the outskirts of Fort Bragg. There, they lived 17 years before coming back to where they always called home, beautiful Lake County. Chet often told a story of attending the Lake County Fair with Fay when they first started dating. He fondly remembered stuffing her pink petticoats and big blonde hair inside the cab of his 56 Ford Pickup. He claimed to remember the entire night from start to finish. They sat beside each other in that old truck wherever they went for many years. Chet never got used to life without Fay; after over half a century together, she passed away in 2016. Chet had a wicked quick wit and a talent for twisting the English language. Friends gathered at his shop in Nice, where they would wrench, barter, banter and have an all-around great time. Beer was consumed! Chet was among the last of his group, and he missed his friends terribly. Upper Lake High School alumni John Story, Lee Elkins and Ray Tisell continued to visit him often in recent months, as did Fred Middendorff. It never failed to lift his spirits. There will never be another Chet Johnson. Those who knew him can attest to that! He is predeceased by his parents, his wife of 56 years, Fay, and eldest son, Donald. Chet is survived by his son and best friend David, daughter Denise and son-in-law Fred. At his request, there will be no services. A very sincere thank you to Hospice Services of Lake County. "Say not in grief he is no more but in thankfulness that he was." - Hebrew Proverb
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