Billy Johnson dies at 88

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[The following is a newspaper obituary that has been photocopied and placed in the back of Lena Johnson’s “History of the Johnson Family.”]

Billy Johnson dies at 88

CASPER — Billy Johnson who died in La Jolla, Calif. Tuesday at the age of 88, probably outfitted more cowboys and ranch hands than any other clothier in Casper during more than 40 years of doing business on South Center St.

And he left his mark on the future of the town, serving on the Natrona County Library Board from 1918 to 1965. Billy, as everyone called him by his first name, insisted on keeping the public library location downtown at Second and Durbin — overcoming a group headed by Ernest Wilkerson, Casper lawyer and former gubernatorial candidate, who wanted to relocate the structure on the old city hall property — present site of the Board of Public Utilities.

That’s when the decrepit old library had an “ostrich egg” dome that leaked and ruined books and furnishings from time to time. It was replaced a few years ago by a new addition.

Billy served so faithfully on the library board that county cominissioners kept reappointing him.

But be was best known for his clothing store on the east side of Center Street, which has been taken over by a municipal parking lot.

He started in the clothing business back in 1914, when the firm was known as Campbell-Johnson Clothing Co. It carried a complete line of clothing and shoes, for city dudes as well as the ranch trade.

In 1908, Billy came from Lincoln, Neb. to Casper to become office manager of the Webel Commercial Co. Six years later he entered into partnership with George Campbell on the forming of the Campbell- Johnson Clothing Co. They operated as a partnership until 1935, when Billy opened a clothing store under his own name at 221 South Center, the site of the former Gamble Store.

Billy personally waited on the ranchers, whether it was fitting a 20-gallon 3X Beaver Stetson or taking a ranch hand down to the basement to find a pair of irrigatin’ boots.

It came as a surprise to the business community when the short, affable clothier decided to quit business, move to California and retire. He lost the lease to part of his store. His many friends had taken it for granted that he would always live in Casper.

He was marred to Marguerite Barkley in 1919 at Brockport, N.Y. That same year he was elected to the Wyoming State Legislature for a two-year term on the Republlcan ticket. In 1921, he was elected to a four-year term in the state senate.

Survivors include the widow, Marguerite, of La Jolla;  and three daughters, Mrs. Sybil Dray, Mrs. Barbara Penhallow, and Sally Johnson.

Funeral arrangements are pending in La Jolla.

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