Harold H. Johnson, 89, of Sunnyside died on Saturday, July 28, 2012, in Sunnyside.

His grandparents came to Sunnyside from Iowa by covered wagon in 1893, when his father was one year old. They homesteaded a farm on South Emerald road, Southwest of Sunnyside, where Harold was born Aug. 27. 1922.

He graduated from Sunnyside High School, and then attended Washington State College (now WSU), where he graduated with a BS in civil engineering.

Due to WWII, he completed his degree a year early, finishing in the summer following his junior year. In June 1944 he was drafted into the U.S. Army "Corps of Engineers" and was soon on his first cruise liner, "Queen Elizabeth," headed for Europe. After the war in Europe was won, they prepared for deployment to the Pacific. However, this war ended prior to deployment. He then was assigned to a group photographing the Nurnberg Trials. By the time he left the army, he had earned the rank of sergeant.

Battles and campaigns: Rhineland. Victory medal, American Theater Service medal, Army of Occupation medal (Germany), European African Middle Eastern Service medal and Good Conduct medal.

After the war he returned to Sunnyside and built his own house, which was completed in early 1950. Later that year he met and married the only woman he ever loved, his wife Viola. They lived in the house a short time until he decided to follow construction building dams.

He soon became project engineer, constructing dams all over the world. Their three children were born at various towns near these projects. Dams include: Chief Joseph, Littleton (N.H.), Dalles, Ice Harbor, John Day, Fall Creek (Ore.) and Arrow (B.C.).

He also worked on dams in Australia, Iran, Central and South America. As the construction of dams was ending, he worked on Rapid Transit, including BART in San Francisco, Calif. and Metro in Washington DC. He received Professional Engineer Registration in Washington, Oregon and District of Columbia (Washington, DC).

Harold retired in 1984 and returned to live in the house he built in Sunnyside. He always planted a vegetable garden. Due to the size of his garden, a friend once stated, "The government should pay you not to produce!"

Viola had been diagnosed with cancer a couple of years prior to his retirement, so his goal was to conquer the disease. She eventually died in February 1988, so he directed all his energy to helping his children and grandchildren.

He was a strong advocate of education, something no one could take away. Viola's dying wishes to her son was for him to take care of her husband. She was more concerned about him than herself.

With his son, Keith, he enjoyed fishing, hunting and designing and building home improvement projects, including an addition to his original house.

Harold continued to grow his massive garden, using only a #2 shovel and a hoe. He couldn't understand why people would walk around the block for exercise when all they had to do was go work in their yards.

He is survived by two daughters, Betty (Tom) Spradlin of Selah and Irena Johnson of Wenatchee; son, Keith Johnson of Sunnyside; seven grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Viola; his parents, Leighton and Gladys Johnson; sisters, Jean (Earl) Huetson, Virginia (Bill) Verhulp and Barbara (Walt) Johnson; and two granddaughters, Angela Bisbee and Little Girl.

Viewing and visitation will be held Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, from 2 to 8 p.m. at Smith Funeral Home in Sunnyside. Funeral services will be held Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, at 1 p.m. at Smith Funeral Home Chapel in Sunnyside, with burial with military honors to be held at Lower Valley Memorial Gardens.

Those wishing to sign Harold's on-line memorial book may do so at

Smith Funeral Home LTD and Crematory is in charge or arrangement.


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