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Richard Michael Johnson, 73

| April 3, 2024 12:00 AM

Richard Michael Johnson passed away quietly in his home in Plains on January 27, 2024 with his wife Linda at his side. 

Michael was born in San Francisco, California to Richard V. "Dick" Johnson and Martha Jane Johnson. Dick and Jane raised Michael and his four siblings in Sanger, California. He was a thoughtful boy with a voracious appetite for reading and was known to have read every book in the local library. Michael discovered a love for growing things at an early age and his passion for all plants, wild and domestic, continued throughout his life. 

He graduated from Sanger High School in 1968 and was an active member of his local chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Michael assisted his father's cabinet making business and he graduated from Reedley Community College while working nights at a local distillery. In his spare time, Michael was an avid hiker and enjoyed walking in nature from the coast to the high mountains.

Michael married Arahmis Stone in 1978. He managed the garden center of a local store while living in Merced, California, then worked for a local wholesale nursery while living in Le Grand, California. Michael and Arahmis had two children, Vince Johnson in 1982 and Dylan Johnson in 1984. Michael and Arahmis divorced in 1986. In 1987, Michael married Rebecca Hightower and welcomed her children, Asia Balliett and Sierra Balliett into the family. Michael moved the family from Le Grand to Plains, Montana in 1989 where he managed the sales department for a wholesale nursery. Michael, Rebecca, Vince, Dylan, Asia, and Sierra lived together in Plains until all four kids graduated from high school and moved away from Plains. Michael and Rebecca separated in 2002. In 2009, Michael married Linda (Zeckzer) Johnson. Michael and Linda lived together in Plains except for a few years they spent in Prescott, Arizona.

While Michael grew up in a Christian family, he was also active in his local buddhist communities in both California and Montana for several decades. He embraced and returned to Christianity in his final decades and devoted his last few years to bible study and prayer. Michael was a man of quiet strength. He was a poet with a philosophy of peace and he endured life's travails and enjoyed life's blessings with a similar stoicism. Those who were fortunate enough to know Michael well, found that he was a man who had contemplated life's mysteries and could readily discuss nearly any subject. His encyclopedic knowledge of botany and horticulture was particularly amazing. Michael was a man who truly understood the meaning of life to be found in planting the seeds of plants whose fruit and shade he would never get to enjoy. The seeds he planted in life, both physical and spiritual, will continue growing to sustain and inspire us and countless others long after he is gone.

Michael was preceded in death by his parents, Richard and Jane Johnson. He is survived by his wife Linda Johnson; children Vince Johnson (Dana) of Oakland, Oregon; Dylan Johnson (Kaelin) of Nevada City, California; Asia Balliett of Missoula, Montana; Sierra Balliett (Jay) of Missoula, Montana; siblings Jeanette Patrick of Massachusetts; Beverly Russell (Jack) of Los Osos, California; Laura Harris (Reed) of Las Vegas, Nevada; and Mark Johnson (Rita) of Tollhouse, California. No formal services will be held.

    Richard Michael Johnson