Don Johnson Northern was born May 26, 1930 in Sunnyside, UT. He was the second son born to Elnora Wright, and Roy W. Johnson. He had four other siblings, Lyle, Velda, Flora, and Roy.
His beloved father died in a mining accident September 17, 1933 when he was just three years old.
He always talked about him and said how much he missed having a father while he was growing up.
The family moved to Blanding soon after his father’s death where he lived until he left Blanding to attend Carbon College in Price, UT.
After one year of college, Don came home for the summer where he met and married the love of his life Claire Marie Black, on October 2, 1950.
Two weeks after they were married, he received greetings from the Army. He had been drafted. He reported to Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, UT on November 20, 1950.
They spent their first Christmas together in Fort Riley, KS where Don did his basic training. He was then sent to Fort Bliss, Texas where he was trained in electronics.
Don eventually wrote the first Army manual on missile guidance and taught the class to officers and senior NCOs.
He said they made him wear civilian clothes because the officers and NCOs wouldn’t take kindly to a PFC teaching the class.
The couple moved to Salt Lake City, UT where Don finished his schooling at the University of Utah. He graduated with two masters degrees.
After graduating from college they moved to Morgan, UT where Don was named The Recreation Director for the city of Morgan. He also coached the Morgan High Trojan football team at the same time.
The family’s next move was to Kaysville, UT where he taught school at Davis Middle School for two years.
He then went to work for Litton Data Systems in Salt Lake City.
While with Litton, he was recruited by Fairchild, which necessitated a move to the San Francisco Bay area around 1965. The family’s stay there was short because Litton recruited him back as director of operations at their corporate headquarters in Beverly Hills, CA.
The family moved to Woodland Hills, CA in 1966 where they lived until 1972.
Don and Claire moved to Phoenix, AZ where they started their own successful business called the Jewel Pirate. He continued to grow their business until he ended up creating Sundance Manufacturing.
It was a wholesale pottery business covering the whole southwest area. They finally retired, bought a big, beautiful motor home, and they traveled on and off for about six years.
They settled in St. George, UT in 2002 where they resided until Don had a stroke in October 2017.
Through his life, Don was a very loving and devoted husband and father. When it became evident that Claire needed nursing care for her advanced Alzheimer’s, the family moved them both back to Blanding. Don always called Blanding his home.
The family had the opportunity to learn many new things about dad that they never knew. He was a man of integrity and great character. He made a friend out of everyone he met.
If you would ever ask him how he was doing his response was, “Just about perfect” every single time. The sun was always shining and it was always 72 degrees with Don. He loved to paint and he was a great artist.
He loved to share his paintings with everyone and was always very generous to give them away to family and friends. What a great gift he left to all of us to enjoy for generations to come.
He was a patient and kind man and everyone was always made to feel welcome in his home.
Don is survived by four children and their spouses, Michael (Gail) Northern, Karen (Danny) Fleming, Jeanne (Chuck) Cotter and Kendall (Sue) Northern, 14 grandchildren, and 31 great-grandchildren with one more on the way.
He is preceded in death by his mother, father, two brothers, and two sisters.
He was a patient and kind man and everyone was always made to feel welcome in his home. Until we meet again Dad, We love you!
Card of thanks
The family would like to thank the four Corners Care Center, Blue Mountain Hospital, The San Juan Mortuary and all the doctors and nurses who were so gentle and kind to Dad.
The family also thanks the Seventh Ward bishop and Relief Society for the meal that was provided to the family.