THE GOLDEN ROLL


| May/June 1995


ROBERT L JOHNSON, 66, of Terre Haute, Indiana, died January 25, 1995 in Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Danville, Illinois. Bob is survived by his wife, Betty Sanders Johnson; a son, Stephen of Columbia, South Carolina; son and daughter-in-law Robert A. and Vickie Johnson of Decatur, Illinois; one daughter, Lori Johnson of Terre Haute; and two granddaughters.

Bob along with his family operated a steam powered sawmill for several years. During the 1950s and 1960s Bob helped find homes for many old steam engines to avoid the scrapper's torch. He and his father Rex traveled many miles in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky photographing steam engines to put in their 'steam engine book.' Bob's father said it didn't do any good to know the make of an engine if you didn't know its serial number. Bob helped Billie Creek Village at Rockville to maintain their equipment, and was active in the Douglas County Historical Steam Festival at Arcola, Illinois, helping to operate the steam equipment. He was, for many years, a weekend engineer for the French Lick Railroad at French Lick, Indiana.

He also took a lot of enjoyment from helping his fellow steam hobbyists with advice or encouragement. He could be counted on to lend tools or parts to restore a piece of equipment. His smile and video camera were present at many shows or wherever a steam engine was fired up. 'Several years ago my father and I purchased a 20-75 rear mount Nichols and Shepard double engine from Bob which he had owned since he was 16 years old,' writes Larry Creed. 'Bob's health had started to falter and the engine was in need of more restoration work than Bob could do. I am glad he was able to see the Nichols restored. He was almost always present when we steamed up the Nichols and recorded the event with his video camera.

Bob was a retired engineer for television communication and worked for television stations WTHI and WBAK. He was an Army veteran of World War II; a member of the Otter Creek Citizens Patrol; Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite; Masonic Lodge 442; and the D.A.V., Chap. 10.

Bob Johnson was an expert in steam operation and was supported wholeheartedly by his wife, Betty, and his children. Daughter Lori and son Bob, Jr., would often be seen assisting Bob in running the engines, scooping coal, oiling and greasing. Since she was a little girl, Lori had a knack for attracting coal dust and oil when on the engine, and Bob would laugh and look at her with pride.

We will miss this man with the wonderful smile that would light up his entire face and his kind words of encouragement. We will miss his great expertise and who has been an inspiration for so many through his love of his country and the example he has set in meeting life's challenges. May God Bless Him.






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