Saturday, October 4, 2008

Unexpected Death of family friend

Howard Johnson, 72, led Bulldogs for more than 20 years
The longest tenured football coach in North Bend High School history died Friday night in a two-vehicle accident as he and the school’s athletic director were traveling to Sutherlin to watch the team’s Far West League opener.

*Howard Johnson

Howard Johnson, 72, was pronounced dead by emergency responders after they arrived at the site of the crash, about milepost 14 on Highway 138W, west of Sutherlin.

According to an Oregon State Police press release, Johnson was driving east around a curve of the highway in a 1999 Cadillac Seville when a westbound 2005 Jeep Wrangler lost control and began to slide into the eastbound lane. The Cadillac moved to the right side of the highway in an attempt to avoid the Jeep, but was struck on the driver’s side by the left front corner of the Jeep.

The Jeep’s driver, Jennifer Sines, 33, of Roseburg, and her 2-year old son suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg. The boy was later flown to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland for further medical treatment. No further information about their condition was available at press time.

North Bend Athletic Director Boyd Bjorkquist, 53, was riding with Johnson and suffered minor injuries in the crash. Ambulance crews took him to Mercy Medical Center where he was treated and released.

North Bend football coach Rick Taylor said Bjorkquist informed the players and coaches about the accident on the field following the Bulldogs’ 20-8 win over Sutherlin on Friday night.

Even though Johnson had been out of coaching for more than a decade, he stayed involved in the school and its athletic program.

“He was just a great guy,” Taylor said. “The kids had a lot of respect for him.”

Johnson coached the Bulldogs from 1971 to 1992, leading the squad to the playoffs seven times and the Midwestern League title in 1974. His 151-141-3 record included 10 victories over Marshfield.

Johnson went to school in Montana, playing in the state’s East-West Game as a high school student and coaching it as a senior in college.

He coached in Idaho and Montana for a total of 12 years before coming to North Bend.

In addition to coaching football, Johnson was an assistant basketball coach for several years and the athletic director for three after he stepped down from coaching.

After retiring as AD, Johnson led the stadium committee and was an active member in the North Bend Booster Club. He was inducted into the hall of fame in 2002.

“He was truly an inspirational guy to anybody who even knew him a little bit,” Taylor said. “My coaching staff is made up of all North Bend guys. They all knew Howard and loved him.”

I had to agree with the last statement. He was a great example and had a kind nature about him. He was my Bishop and then the Stake president when I was growing up. My dad served with him in both settings. He had great faith and loved the Lord. He loved the scriptures and as Bishop and Stake president really encouraged us to have personal and family scripture study. My parents took it to heart. I have memories of going fishing with him and my dad when I was a little girl. My prayer tonight that his family and friends may have peace and comfort in this time of grief and that they may feel of Heavenly Father's love for them.


Sandy said...

Having just lost a beloved Uncle, I understand a bit that the sudden and unexpected passing of these heros of our youth can come as quite a blow. We send our thoughts for comfort to you and his family.

The Otis Family said...

That's an excellent post. I had just found out about the accident Saturday. Are you going home for the funeral? Unfortunately, it's too far and too expensive for us to go right now though I believe Tamaran and Mom might be going.

The Moyers said...

So sad! That was a great post in memory if him. Thanks!

The Georgia Peaches said...

I'm still in a little shock. I found out within the hour that it had happened. It makes you really think about life and the unexpected.
I'd like to go but, but like you I'm not going to able to go. I'm glad that your mom and Tamaran are getting to go. I know that they will be a great support to Marymae.