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
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.
We combined two letters about Bob Johnson They are from:
Fred Nolan, Douglas County Historical Steam Festival, RR #2, Box
1055, Arcola, Illinois 61910 and Larry G. Creed, R. R. 13, Box
209A, Brazil, Indiana 47834.