Billy Johnson dies at 88

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[The fol­low­ing is a news­pa­per obit­u­ary that has been pho­to­copied and placed in the back of Lena John­son’s “His­to­ry of the John­son Fam­i­ly.”]

Billy Johnson dies at 88

CASPER — Bil­ly John­son who died in La Jol­la, Calif. Tues­day at the age of 88, prob­a­bly out­fit­ted more cow­boys and ranch hands than any oth­er cloth­ier in Casper dur­ing more than 40 years of doing busi­ness on South Cen­ter St.

And he left his mark on the future of the town, serv­ing on the Natrona Coun­ty Library Board from 1918 to 1965. Bil­ly, as every­one called him by his first name, insist­ed on keep­ing the pub­lic library loca­tion down­town at Sec­ond and Durbin — over­com­ing a group head­ed by Ernest Wilk­er­son, Casper lawyer and for­mer guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date, who want­ed to relo­cate the struc­ture on the old city hall prop­er­ty — present site of the Board of Pub­lic Util­i­ties.

That’s when the decrepit old library had an “ostrich egg” dome that leaked and ruined books and fur­nish­ings from time to time. It was replaced a few years ago by a new addi­tion.

Bil­ly served so faith­ful­ly on the library board that coun­ty cominis­sion­ers kept reap­point­ing him.

But be was best known for his cloth­ing store on the east side of Cen­ter Street, which has been tak­en over by a munic­i­pal park­ing lot.

He start­ed in the cloth­ing busi­ness back in 1914, when the firm was known as Camp­bell-John­son Cloth­ing Co. It car­ried a com­plete line of cloth­ing and shoes, for city dudes as well as the ranch trade.

In 1908, Bil­ly came from Lin­coln, Neb. to Casper to become office man­ag­er of the Webel Com­mer­cial Co. Six years lat­er he entered into part­ner­ship with George Camp­bell on the form­ing of the Camp­bell- John­son Cloth­ing Co. They oper­at­ed as a part­ner­ship until 1935, when Bil­ly opened a cloth­ing store under his own name at 221 South Cen­ter, the site of the for­mer Gam­ble Store.

Bil­ly per­son­al­ly wait­ed on the ranch­ers, whether it was fit­ting a 20-gal­lon 3X Beaver Stet­son or tak­ing a ranch hand down to the base­ment to find a pair of irri­gatin’ boots.

It came as a sur­prise to the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty when the short, affa­ble cloth­ier decid­ed to quit busi­ness, move to Cal­i­for­nia and retire. He lost the lease to part of his store. His many friends had tak­en it for grant­ed that he would always live in Casper.

He was marred to Mar­guerite Barkley in 1919 at Brock­port, N.Y. That same year he was elect­ed to the Wyoming State Leg­is­la­ture for a two-year term on the Repub­ll­can tick­et. In 1921, he was elect­ed to a four-year term in the state sen­ate.

Sur­vivors include the wid­ow, Mar­guerite, of La Jol­la;  and three daugh­ters, Mrs. Sybil Dray, Mrs. Bar­bara Pen­hal­low, and Sal­ly John­son.

Funer­al arrange­ments are pend­ing in La Jol­la.

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