Terry “TJ” Lee Johnson was born April 1st, 1946, to parents Harold and Arlene Johnson in Grinnell, Iowa. He was the oldest of 4 boys; with Ron and Don as twins in the middle and Leo “Butch” as the youngest.
Around 1950, the Johnson family moved to Alaska for a short time then moved back to Grinnell in 1952.
Five years later they moved to Stockton, CA and this is where the boys grew up, building life-long friendships with Gary Gentry and Larry Rust to name a couple. To this day, Gary is considered the 5th brother and unfortunately Larry preceded TJ in passing.
TJ graduated from Franklin High School in Stockton, CA in June of 1964. Then the group of friends, known as Larry, Terry, Gary, and Ken had a pact that if one of them was drafted, they would all join the military. So, when that happened, TJ opted for United States Air Force in September of 1965 on Beale AFB. He also served in Anchorage, Alaska where he had an accident and was injured, although not career ending. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in November 1967 and was honorably discharged at the end of his tour in September 1971.
In June of 1970, at the wedding of his friend Larry to Hilda Clanton-Rust, TJ met Hilda’s sister, Sherry Clanton, who quickly became the 1st love of his life. It didn’t take long for TJ and Sherry to also get married on February 27th, 1971 in Concord, CA. They lived in Stockton until June of 1973.
TJ became a father for the 1st time in June of 1973, when his son, Christopher was born. They soon moved to Concord, CA where they attended Calvary Temple Church and formed many lifelong friendships.
In August of 1975, TJ was hired by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office where he spent the first two years working at the detention facility.
His 2nd son, Benjamin was born in March of 1977 and later his daughter, Annette was born in August of 1978.
During his employment with the sheriff’s office, TJ worked in the Patrol Division from 1975 – 1981 which included a couple years as a K9 handler. His K9 partner was named Zeeb and this incredible partnership is best known for tracking and arresting a suspect who had shot and killed a Pinole police officer.
In 1981, TJ transferred to the Narcotics Task Force where he worked undercover. In 1983, he transferred back to Detention division where he became a certified firearms instructor. In 1986, he transferred back to the patrol division.
TJ lost his father, Harold in 1988 and his mother remained in Stockton, CA.
In 1992, TJ transferred to the Coroner’s Division within the Sheriff’s Department with a job description of “death scene investigator.”
After celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary in February of 1996 with all their friends and family, TJ lost his beloved Sherry unexpectedly in May of that same year.
In October of 1996, TJ met the 2nd love of his life, Randee Rollings. They met through their jobs; working for the same agency, in different departments. They dated for 3 ½ years and were married in June of 2000 with their 4 collective children standing with them at the altar.
With this marriage TJ gained a daughter, Angie Rollings, who was born to Randee in July of 1980.
In 2001, the Johnson family again grew by one when Ben married Becky Hardy in CA.
During his time in the Coroner’s Division of the Sheriff’s Department, TJ was promoted to Corporal in 2001. He retired from the department in October 2002. The fun fact about TJ’s final day at work is that Randee was his radio dispatcher when he radioed for the final time that he was 10-10 (radio code for off duty) on the date of 10/10, at 10:10 am. The airwaves were then filled with the clicking of microphones as a display of respect and well wishes by his fellow law enforcement buddies.
In early 2003, Randee also took an early retirement and they moved to North Idaho so they could enjoy a life of leisure and recreation with other friends that had already relocated there (several even on the same street).
In May of 2003, TJ was blessed to become a grandpa for the 1st time when Kylee was born, and again just 15 months later when Madison was born in August of 2004.
In 2007, the Johnson family grew again when Chris married Alisa Frost in CA.
In May of 2011, TJ was again heartbroken to lose his mother, Arlene in CA.
In June of 2014, the family grew again when Angie married Mario Tuatagaloa in CA. With that marriage; TJ gained 2 granddaughters, Angelina (and eventual husband Stephen), DeeAna, and great-granddaughter Mariah.
That same year, in October of 2014, Chris and Alisa blessed TJ with his first grandson, Alton.
In August of 2020, Stephen and Angelina had their first son Joseph and then Jonathan came along in June of 2022, both becoming TJ’s great grandsons.
Also in August of 2020, TJ was diagnosed with a serious illness that would change the course of his life and take him on a 2 year journey of drastic measures to get, and stay healthy. Despite our efforts and, to the devastation of all that knew TJ, he passed away in Coeur d’ Alene, ID on the morning of September 2nd, 2022 surrounded by his wife, children and brother with other family and close friends nearby. Please reach out to a family member for Celebration of Life information.
First and foremost, TJ was a steadfast man of God. He was raised in the Assembly of God church. He raised his family in the same faith and he and Randee found their home at Coeur d’Alene Assembly, now Canvas Church in Coeur d’Alene, ID under the eventual and current leadership of Pastor Nate Day and Jacob Cormier. TJ was an amazing husband, father and grandfather. He took care of everyone but especially his wife; she never had to worry about finances, household equipment, vehicle maintenance, etc. He even kept her car gassed up.
During TJ’s 76 years of life, he had many interests and passions.
He was passionate about cars. He grew up working on cars and racing. He loved hot rods and owned 19 different ones at some point during his life, specifically Chevys (1955-1957). He still owned his blue 1955 Chevy station wagon that he’s had for 30+ years. He was a member of Diablo Valley Classics car club in CA for many years and then while in Coeur d’Alene would participate in the “Car d’Alene” parade/show and other car shows. He loved the sport of drag racing and in his younger years, had been a part of a professional drag racing team out of Charlotte, NC under ownership of driver Charles Carpenter. He loved that drag strip feel and smell. He was passionate about the NHRA going to several races and getting autographs from his favorite drivers on some of his favorite ball caps. He also followed NASCAR and was a Dale Earnhardt fan.
He loved guns and as a former firearms instructor, he knew them well. Buying, selling, trading, etc. He was an occasional hunter - a great shot - whether shooting at paper targets, clay targets, live birds, or game.
Camping was the most important part of his summers. He and Randee had a tight circle of friends that would camp and fellowship together as often as possible during the summer months. TJ owned and loved his Can-Am ATV and the group spent many hours on trails together. There were a couple of ATV crashes in the history books of TJ too; one resulting broken ribs and a shattered wrist.
Around 2018, he started attending the men’s basketball games at North Idaho College, joined the Booster club, and then became the Assistant to the Head Coach. His duties included driving the van that transports the athletes to and from games and, traveling with the team to their away games. He was a mentor to some of the athletes and a friend to many more. When his team won the championship he was given a Championship ring that he was very proud of.
In January of 2021 he bought a 2012 C6 Corvette Grand Sport. He and Randee joined the North Idaho Corvette club and the Spokane Corvette club meeting other Corvette owners and going on runs - long distance and local - plus several car shows. In recent months, TJ won a couple of awards showing his car. That was his thing. He loved tinkering with his cars, and adding upgrade options on the Corvette. He now has a vast collection of die cast Corvettes, books about Corvettes, and all the accessories one can imagine for his Corvette.
In summary, TJ leaves behind a large family that will forever be changed.
Christopher Johnson and wife Alisa, grandson Alton
Benjamin Johnson and wife Becky, granddaughters Kylee and Madison
Angie Tuatagaloa (stepdaughter), and her husband Mario.
DeeAna and Angelina and husband Stephen.
Step great-granddaughter Mariah.
Step great-grandsons Joseph and Jonathan.
Donald Johnson and wife Joyce with kids Chad, Charissa, and Andy
Ronald Johnson and wife Sandy with kids Ryan and Cori
Leo “Butch” Johnson and wife Lana with kids Patricia and Roberta
Numerous other great nieces and nephews.
TJ’s half brother Robert ‘”Bob” Johnson and his half sister Judy Johnson preceded him in passing.
He was a servant, a gentle man and a gentleman, a man of integrity, a mentor, a leader, a protector, and an example to all those that came into contact with him. He was a patriotic man with a love of eagles and the American flag, he was loyal, generous, funny, outspoken, meticulous, creative, knowledgeable, capable, passionate, talkative, and a storyteller that spoke with a southern accent even though he was not from the south.
He was everyone’s friend and he had LOTS of them! The neighborhood grew used to seeing him wave at them as they drove or walked by, while he was working in the yard or working on cars. He loved to talk and if they stopped, they got an earful.
He was a boater, a sometimes golfer, a sometimes fisherman, a mechanic, a car enthusiast, a gun enthusiast, a ball cap collector, a t-shirt collector, a toy car collector, a fix-it man, a big time fan of men’s and women’s college basketball, little league baseball, to name a few.
He never let grass grow under him as he always had “TJ things” to do.
It’s important to remember that TJ (Terry) was a veteran that served his country in the U.S. Air Force, and a retired police officer that served his community in multiple different capacities during his career. He deserves many honors here among the living and in Heaven for those important roles that he filled.
TJ was a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, father-in-law and friend. He had good reason to brag about his children as Chris followed in his footsteps in law enforcement, and firearms instruction, Ben took their faith in God and went into the ministry as a Pastor who started by leading and mentoring the youth in his community, . Annette earned multiple olympic medals for swimming in the Special Olympics; she was always a true champion to her dad. Angie with the patience of an angel became a teacher and is currently teaching first grade.
TJ was such a big part of the lives of his wife, children, all the grands, brothers and friends. It’s hard to imagine life without him. He had so much more he wanted to do and was in the middle of multiple projects. His absence has created a huge hole in this life and the only thing that brings peace to those that love him, is that he is with his Father in Heaven and is no longer suffering.
“This is not something we’ll get over; it is something we’ll get through” (Willie Nelson)
Evening, morning and noon, I cry out in my distress and He hears my voice. Psalm 55:17