Art Johnson died on March 10 at 94. He was one of the owners of Eugene Weekly, having bought it with his wife, Anita Johnson, and the late Fred Taylor and his widow, Georga Taylor.
Johnson was a lawyer’s lawyer, president of the Lane County Bar, president of both the Oregon State Bar and the Oregon Trial Lawyers, and a fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. In 1983, he established Johnson, Quinn, Clifton & Williams, which eventually became today’s Johnson, Johnson, Lucas & Middleton.
Johnson specialized in personal injury and death claims, and he was also a warrior for civil justice. He received more awards in law than we could possibly list here, but most important to him was seeking justice for each and every client — from the millworker hurt by an unguarded machine to the famous farmworker advocate Dolores Huerta after she was beaten by San Francisco police officers.
He joined and led countless community campaigns for the greater good. The latest was the campaign to develop Civic Park as a place to play.
He dove into outdoor pursuits, pioneering climbing routes in his beloved Cascades, floating rivers in canoes and drift boats and hunting with a bow and arrows.
Most of all, Johnson loved his family. They spent most family vacations in the mountains, skiing, backpacking, floating rivers and fishing. He passed on to his kids his own appreciation for the beauty and intrinsic value of wild places and the natural environment. Sometimes he would settle a case in a phone booth at the bottom of a ski run.
In his leisure time, he turned wood in a shop attached to his house, and photographed the nature he prized.
The youngest of Hazel and H.V. Johnson’s five children, he was born in Akron, Ohio, on Feb. 26, 1928, and moved to Oregon when he was 8 years old. His parents chose western Oregon because H.V.’s brother had moved to Elkton and loved the region, and they chose Eugene because they wanted their children to go to the University of Oregon. All five did.
Johnson graduated from the UO with a degree in history in 1950, serving as Associated Student Body president in his senior year. From the UO he went to Harvard Law, where he received his LL.B. in 1953.
That was a big year. He married Anita Holmes, whom he’d met at the UO when she was editor of The Emerald; passed the Oregon bar exam; and started a law practice in Eugene with his father, brother Harold and good friend Jim Harrang. Then he was called into the U.S. Air Force, where he served two years as a legal officer and survival instructor.
After his discharge, the couple spent four months in Europe, camping and backpacking, and then settled down in Eugene, where he rejoined the law firm and they raised their four children.
Besides his wife of 69 years, he is survived by their four children and eight grandchildren: Corrie J. Yackulic (Ted Yackulic) in Seattle; Derek (Lynette Williams) in Eugene; Bern (Hillary Johnson) in Eugene; and Andrea (Charles Ziccardi) in Philadelphia, and Larken and Quinn Yackulic; Luciana and Aidan Johnson; Harper and Tatum Johnson; and Charlotte and Marco Ziccardi.
A memorial service is planned for June. In lieu of flowers, please contribute to Square One Villages, directed by Dan Bryant, to provide low-cost housing.