James G. Johnson 1929-2019
August 22, 2019
SWAN VALLEY - James G Johnson, motorcycle racer, sailor, stunt man, truck driver, merchant seamen and nature lover, took his last lap around the track May 14 at his home in Swan Valley. He was surrounded by his nephew and a couple of his good friends as he said "aloha" to his life here on this planet. Jim was a spiritual person, loved life and lived most of his 90 plus years to the fullest. Jim's life was full of adventure and excitement until he decided to settle down in the beautiful Swan Valley in 1993.
He was born on Sept. 1, 1928, in Los Angeles, Calif. one of four children (the only male). His mother Clemence Gifford Johnson-Sherwood grew up in the Hawaiian Islands in the early 1900's and later became an opera singer. His stepfather Norman Sherwood was an oil man, who worked for Shell oil.
Jim was too young to join the military due to his age during World War 2 (he was only 16 years old), so he became a U.S. Merchant Seaman during the war crossing the Atlantic on Merchant Ships, later joining the Army after the war.
Jim won the prestigious Catalina Grand Prix race in 1954, Big Bear in 1959 and many other motorcycle races throughout his life in the 1950's. His love for motorcycles took him all over the world and later did stunt jobs in Hollywood (doubled for Steve Mc Queen in the movie "Bullet") and thrill shows all over the USA, Europe and South America. He drove trucks for a living, until he decided to follow his love for motorcycles and opened a Suzuki dealership in Berkley, Calif. in the early 60's. After a decade of selling and servicing motorcycle, he moved to Hawaii to pursue his love for the ocean and learn more about his mother's life growing up in Hawaii.
He sailed two sailboats across the pacific from Hawaii to California in the 70's, and a 100 foot gaff rig schooner from Pago Pago to Hawaii in the late 80's. He worked interisland tugboats and then decided to develop his merchant seamen career further and moved up his seamen licenses to the level of a Master License, unlimited tonnage! He retired for Master, Mates & Pilots in 1993 after falling in love with the beautiful Swan Valley and the people in the surrounding community!
Jim loved to sit in his log cabin, watching all the "little & big animals" that would wander through the property. He also loved to read, do crossword puzzles and visit his friends at the Hungry Bear and Liquid Louie's. Jim lived his life his way to the end. As one of his friends said, "He was the real deal, no doubt about it!" Jim's favorite song was Frank Sinatra's version of "My Way."
There will be a celebration of his life at the Hungry Bear Steak House Sunday, Sept. 8 at 4 p.m. Please come and join us celebrating the life of a true American, veteran and adventurer!