October 1914 October 2011
Carlock "Corky" Johnson, 96, Forester, National Park Service Ranger, proud member of the Ashland Elks Lodge, and long-time Oregon State University fan, completed his life on October 3, 2011, in Davis, Calif., leaving an example of good character and notable accomplishments for his family and all who knew him.
Johnson was one of a small group who were selected as the first rangers in Kings Canyon National Park during the early 1940s. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and then returned to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park as a ranger. During his career in the National Park Service, Johnson was a forester, ranger, district ranger, chief ranger, assistant superintendent, and superintendent at beautiful locations across the United States including Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Crater Lake National Park, San Francisco Regional Office, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Flaming Gorge Recreational Area, Isle Royal National Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and Glen Canyon National Recreational Area.
Johnson was a student of Native American artifacts and history. While superintendent of Glen Canyon National Recreational Area, he received recognition from the Navajo nation in appreciation of his outstanding services to the Navajo people.
Johnson's love of the national parks, great appreciation for local history and cultures, along with a twinkling sense of humor and "Corkyisms" of wisdom were hallmarks of his leadership and parenting.
An avid fisherman and hunter, Corky especially enjoyed spending time with friends he met throughout the country learning about local game and fish.
Born and raised in Oregon, Johnson spent most of his childhood in Ashland. He returned to Ashland in 1974, when he retired from the National Park Service. Along with his wife, Helen, Corky attended the First Baptist Church of Ashland. From 1938, until his death, Johnson was a member of the Ashland Elks Lodge BPOE 944; and a trustee of the Butler Memorial Fund for many years.
Johnson's parents, Bessie and Robert, originally from Carter County, Tenn., settled in Eastern Oregon during the late 1800s. While a young boy, Corky lived with his parents and four siblings in Fossil, Ore., where his parents owned a ranch and mercantile store. Later, due to his mother's health, the family moved to Ashland, where Corky often took his coaster wagon to pick up ice chunks that fell off the "refrigerator" train cars. He then sold the ice for ten cents a chunk to his neighbors.
Johnson attended Southern Oregon College and graduated from Oregon State University in 1937, with a forestry degree. While at OSU, he joined the Chi Phi fraternity, and during his senior year, met his future bride, Helen, whom he married the following year.
Corky was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 73 years, Helen Johnson; his parents; brothers, Robert and Winston; and sisters, Mildred and Arlene. He is survived by his daughters, Janice Lowenthal and Lori Aldrete; sons-in-law, Larry Lowenthal and Al Aldrete; grandchildren, Noah, Al, IV, and Michelle; six great-grandchildren, Maria, Aiden, Matthew, Sonya, Chloe, and Thomas; and numerous nieces and nephews, including his sister's daughter, Nancy Dunkeson Pinio.
A celebration of Corky's life will be held at the Litwiller-Simonsen Funeral Chapel at 1811 Ashland Street on Monday, October 24, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. Friends are encouraged to attend.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks those wishing to make memorial contributions in Corky's name to send them to either the Butler Memorial Fund at P.O. Box 569, Ashland, OR 97520; or Yolo Hospice at P.O. Box 1014, Davis, CA 95617.