Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Remembering community benefactor Rod Johnson

| June 20, 2024 12:00 AM

I am writing today to remember my friend Rod Johnson. Rod passed in April, much too young, after suffering from health issues. The family wrote a great obituary, outlining the success Rod had achieved through the years and many of his personal time activities.

I wanted to touch on some of the community service, most of it unrecognized, that Rod and his companies provided over his many years. I would guess he donated to every single person and organization that requested one. Hundreds of individuals and worthy causes benefited from his faithful support.

I knew Rod and his family for over 50 years. Their commitments to Polson and Lake County cannot be measured. Since Don Olsson and others established the Lower Flathead Valley Community Foundation in 1998, Rod was our only treasurer until his recent retirement.

Over those 25 years, Rod managed all investments for the Foundation earning an estimated $4 million that has been gifted to worthy community activities. Some of that funding went to assisting the local Boys and Girls Club when it was getting its start. Later larger grants were made to assist with the growth the club has enjoyed.

Rod also quietly pushed for funding and technical assistance to help the Polson Aquatics Center complete their financing on the facility. He also has helped direct reliable funding to the Polson and Ronan libraries. He was an effective advocate for the Polson Soccer Fields.

He also brought to the Foundation smaller but equally important funding requests the helped the local American Legion team improve their facility in addition to valley-wide youth baseball programs. Countless smaller grants were made to Salish Kootenai College, annual pow-wow celebrations and many other worthy programs.

Most of all, I – like many of you – miss my friend. Rod always made himself available for a short visit at his office, which included several examples of his famous dry wit and measured sarcasm, regardless of the issue of the day. My sincerest sympathy to Cindy and his family and I want to thank them for sharing Rod with us.

– Bob Gauthier