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Sticklin Funeral Chapel

1437 South Gold, Centralia, WA

OBITUARY

Coe Willard Johnson III

April 13, 1942July 9, 2019
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The man, the myth and the legend, Coe Johnson III, battled to remain with family and friends yet transitioned to his next adventure July 9, 2019. The center of every gathering, no one left his presence without hearing a story of his escapades. Lifelong resident of Lewis County, Coe Willard Johnson III was born April 13, 1942, to Dorothy (Phillips) and Coe Johnson II in Centralia, Wash. With three older sisters, Coe was adored from the moment he was born. He graduated, barely according to him, from Centralia High School in 1961, and from the stories he told, the school would never be the same. While skipping school, Coe spied a pretty cheerleader, offered her a ride home and the 61 year love affair with Sharon Orloske began. They were married March 30, 1963, and they made their home in Centralia. Daughter, Breanna was born in 1966, and son and namesake, Coe Johnson IV was born in 1968. In 1958, at the age of 16, Coe began working for National Fruit Canning Corporation, now National Frozen Foods, dumping strawberries and skyrocketed to management becoming plant superintendent at age 25, and general manager by age 30, the position he held for 33 years. Coe believed the farmers and crops of Lewis County were the best in the state and remained dedicated to making the Chehalis plant number one. He led with love and an upbeat attitude that inspired loyalty and believed in promoting from within the company. He rewarded record-breaking production because he valued hard work as much as having fun on the job. Under his leadership, National reduced water waste by 75 percent, broke production records and built a state-of-the-art cold storage facility in the Chehalis Industrial Park. After 45 years with National, Coe retired in 2003. In retirement, Coe still drove by the fields of crops and monitored their growth the same way he did for 45 years. All were welcome at the Johnson home and many considered Coe and Sharon second parents, especially Kelly Jensen. During the parties he hosted, Coe would often burst into song and dance to entertain the partygoers. Most likely, Coe would be singing Roy Orbison or “My Way” because he lived life his way. Coe carried on his father and grandfather’s passion of hunting since he could first hold a rifle. Every place Coe would hunt, he would form a new hunting family making life-long bonds. Coe was always the center of all conversations around the nightly campfire where tales bigger than life were told. He was so proud to see his sons and grandchildren carry on his passion. Everyone knew that Coe and Sharon’s home was a winter wonderland. Each year on Thanksgiving, Coe revealed his massive Christmas-light display. Their cul-de-sac filled nightly with vehicles slowing observe the holiday spectacle. With four Christmas trees and every inch of their house decorated, Coe and Sharon hosted legendary holiday parties for their large families filled with laughter and love. The evening ended with nieces and nephews gathered around Coe to listen to exaggerated tales of his youth. All were welcome at the Johnson home and many considered Coe and Sharon second parents. In retirement, he took yearly trips to Hawaii and enjoyed weekly golf lunch dates with dear friends. Yet the greatest source of pride in his life were his five grandchildren. Coe was the grandpa that wrestled, sang songs, and gave lawn mower rides. He watched every sporting event and performance cheering loudest from the sidelines. Coe is preceded in death by his parents, Dorothy and Coe Johnson II; sister, Judy Jackson; his brothers-in-law, Ron Hjelmstad, Gordon Young, Chet Keen and Dennis Duncan; and sister-in-law, Alice Hjelmstad. He is survived by his sisters, Betsey (Leo) Volk and Dianne Young; and numerous beloved nieces and nephews. Coe also leaves behind Sharon, his wife of 56 years; children, Breanna (Josh) Whited and Coe Johnson IV; and cherished grandchildren, Mason, Rachel and Coe V Johnson and Quinton and Addison Whited. A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, July 21, 2019, at the Great Wolf Lodge Convention Center, 20500 Old Highway 99 SW, Centralia, WA 98531. Visitation prior to the service will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, July 19, 2019, at Sticklin Funeral Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to either the American Cancer Society, PO Box 22478, Oklahoma City, OK 73123, or the charity of your choice.

  • DONATIONS

  • United Way of Lewis County

Services

  • Visitation Friday, July 19, 2019
  • Celebration of Life Sunday, July 21, 2019

Memories

Coe Willard Johnson III

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Nancy Zion

July 23, 2019

I have so many fun memories with the Johnson family! One particular memory is when Coe pulled a joke on Breanna one night, making her think that she won the lottery! I don't remember exactly how he did it but he had her convenienced she was a winner! Bre was screaming with excitement and then she found out it was a prank! As we all sat in hysterics watching the steam pour out poor Bre's face, I remember Poppa J saying to me, "she is gonna kick my ass!"
Love you Poppa J! I will miss you! ❤

Janice (Shirer) Burness

July 19, 2019

I remember a long time ago when COE and SHARON lived on Linda Lane and we lived three houses down from them. Those were the days when we were all very young. Our children were the same age and played together. I have very fond memories of both COE and SHARON and the children. My heart goes out to this family.

CINDY JOHNSON

July 16, 2019

No one could tell a story like Uncle Coe. My favorite times were whenever my Mom and I would come to my Grandmothers and spend the weekend or when I was there taking care of Grandmother. Every morning you could count on Uncle Coe to tell a story about something and have us all laughing. These weren't just stories. These were belly laugh, roll on the ground laughing true stories. He had a knack for telling them like no one else. Whether it was about a Hunting trip, Golfing, Fishing, or one of us. He always made us laugh. One other thing was the affection towards his family and friends. He loved them and they loved him. You will be so missed, Uncle Coe. From Grandma and I ...a Hug a Kiss and a Big squeeze .. Cindy Johnson

Stephanie Hearn

July 16, 2019

While I was working at Kit Carsons. I got to know Coe and the crew quite well. They were like family♡
Coe invited me to come get a few ears of corn from the Canery.
I showed up with a little box so I could carry them to my family BBQ. He laughed at me and shook his head. Directed me to go sit in my truck and he would be right back.
When he returned, he was driving the loader and dumped a whole scoop of corn in the bed of my truck. He laughed so hard. He got me good. Everytime he saw me wanted to know if I wanted more. Good Times...Good People.
Stephanie Hearn

Mark Westley

July 15, 2019

April 1, 1973.....a fence separated my aunt and uncles back yard from the Johnson's. I can still close my eyes and see Coe swinging an axe trying to access a small shed that was engulfed in flames with three children still in it. I was lying on the ground badly burned. Coe risked his life that day in an attempt to save them. Courageous and selfless.

I had the honor of speaking with him a couple years ago about that day, more than forty years later. Brought closure for me as he shared his memories with a trembling voice. I also worked for him at National Frozen Foods during high school and college.

Memories I will carry with me until we meet again.

Mark Westley

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