Kenneth A. Johnson, S.E.C.

In Memoriam

Kenny Johnson, a charter member of the Society, passed away on August 4, 2008. He will be missed by all those fortunate to have known him.

kenny johnson, s.e.c.A visit with Ken during the 40th Anniversary Year of the S.E.C. was a personal opportunity, difficult to match, especially for a relatively new S.E.C. candidate. The life path of this very unique man, who endured many personal and career changes, not so uncommon during his era, is an enjoyable venture worth sharing.

Ken was born to Thomas Johnson and Glenna Shearer on May 2, 1921, in Vale, Oregon. Living in the country, he was delivered by a midwife and, unfortunately, his mother died approximately three weeks later. He grew up on the farm and recalls working the hayfields for a wage of $1.00 per day. Ken wanted to go to Alaska and work in the gold mines to pay his way through college, but after graduation from high school, his father convinced him to stay and help run the farm, promising to get him to college. Ken was “laid off” after that season.

A close friend strongly persuaded Ken to go with him to join the Navy and to “see the world.” On April 8, 1940, Ken did just that, except his friend did not get in. He served six years in the US Navy before returning to Vale. Ken migrated to Idaho and worked as a bartender and later owned two different clubs before returning to Vale. While in Payette, Idaho, Ken entered the real estate business. He obtained his pilot’s license in 1943 and started Flying Realty, which he is just closing this year. He actually toured and marketed cattle ranches by air!

Ken met his first wife, Doris, in San Francisco while he was in the Navy. They met on a Friday and were married as soon as the three-day waiting period was over. After almost 18 years of marriage, they were divorced and he married Clarice, whom most S.E.C. members remember the best. Unfortunately, Clarice passed away after 34 years of marriage on January 2, 1997, but then Ken, in true “love story fashion,” remarried Doris and they are currently enjoying life to the fullest.
Ken was a past president of the Oregon Real Estate Association, being one of only two from the east side of the mountains (the other was Jim Farley). Ken credited his main strength in the business to being able to see, smell and find a deal, where others perhaps would not.

One particular deal Ken was most proud of was leasing all of a 60,000 acre multi-parcel oil land for Sinclair Oil Company in less than three weeks. The second and most impressive was when Ken made a deal with the owner of a title company in Ontario, Oregon. Ken was allowed after-hours access to the title records of nearly 400,000 acres of railroad right-of-way land, in tracts ranging from 10 to 150 acres. The land had been owned in an estate for years and heirs were located all over the world. Ken purchased the parcels at an average of $1.00 per acre and sold the same averaging $3.00 per acre, sight unseen to aggressive prospectors around the United States.

The Society of Exchange Counselors was Ken’s love affair with business and personal relationships, where he credited the great formulas as being responsible for expanding his abilities further than ever expected. Ken was once vice president of the S.E.C. and was asked to run against Rich Reno for president, which he decided would not be one of the more intelligent things he could do at the time!

Ken’s favorite pasttime was fishing, fishing, and more fishing. Ken had fished the mouth of the Columbia River for over 35 years, and in 1954 estimated that he and others (same boat) caught 385 salmon. Ken also spent substantial time fishing around Mazatlan, and other southern resorts.

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