Marathon

Lawrence Sherman Johnson

April 5, 1920 ~ November 22, 2021 (age 101)

Obituary

Lawrence S Johnson [1920-2021].  Albuquerque’s beloved Larry Johnson finished his incredible journey on November 22, surrounded by his children.  Larry was born in Litchfield, OH on April 5, 1920.  His athleticism and self-discipline developed early through his work on the family dairy farm, which included milking cows each morning before making the long walk to school in the township.  Larry played baseball & basketball in high school, and was the valedictorian of the Litchfield Class of 1938.

In 1941 Larry enlisted in the US Army Air Corps, and began training in Wichita Falls, TX as an aircraft mechanic.  His assignment later as Mechanic Instructor for B-17 aircraft landed him in Amarillo, TX where he met the love of his life, Billie Ann Lamb.  They were married in 1943 and started a family.  With the help of the GI Bill, Larry earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech.  After college, Larry worked at SW Power Co in Amarillo before moving his young family to Albuquerque in 1956 to accept a position in the Weapons Compatibility Division of Sandia National Labs.  Larry worked at the Lab for 38 years, retiring at age 75.  Larry treasured the many challenging assignments during his tenure at Sandia, and was afforded the opportunity to work with and travel to multiple US, British, Italian and German airbases.

In part due to his strong credibility in the aircraft compatibility field, Larry was appointed to the Albuquerque International Airport Advisory Board in 1967 by then City of ABQ Commissioner Pete Domenici.  Larry served on the Advisory Board for two terms through 1978 and was a keynote speaker at the ceremonial opening of the airport’s West Wing in 1973.

Larry & Billie made their lifetime home on Princess Jeanne, a neighborhood thriving with community-minded families.  Larry & Billie loved the nearby Sandia Mountains, teaching their four children to ski at Sandia Peak.  In 1973, Larry joined the Sandia Peak Ski Patrol, where he volunteered for 30 years until he was 83.  Larry continued to ski at Sandia Peak with his son and grandchildren until he was 95. 

At the age of 50, Larry ventured into distance running, and joined the Albuquerque Roadrunners and went on to compete in hundreds of races across the country, including twenty-eight marathons, from the Tour of Albuquerque, Fiesta Bowl, Duke City, White Rock/Dallas and his bucket list Boston Marathon in 1989 at the age of 69 where he met BAA icon, Johnny Kelly.  His favorite race was the La Luz Trail Run, where he competed every year until he made his last ascent with his grandson Jay Kory in the 2005 race at 85.

Using distance racing as a springboard Larry was an all-in competitor in the State and National Senior Olympics, traveling to the first National Senior Games in 1987 in St Louis.  With wife Billie and later daughter Judy as his “pit crew” Larry competed in the 5K & 10K runs, the Triathlon and distance Cycling races for 32 years.  His final competition before the pandemic was the 100m Dash at the age of 99 when the Nat’l Senior Games was held in ABQ.  Larry received national accolades for being an NSGA competitor, and was an honorary Torch Bearer at the Opening Ceremony in 2019.

Cycling in his later years of competition found Larry back in the gym, where he joined Spin Class to complement his road bike training.  Spinning became his favorite activity three days a week, looking forward to class and coffee with his fellow “gym rats & spinners”.  At the age of 90, through his 99th birthday prior to the pandemic, his Sunday spin class hosted “Larry’s Century Ride,” where the class would spin 100 miles to celebrate his April birthday each year.  This core group of friends inspired Larry to endure to the very end.

And though Larry was a TT Red Raider, he bled cherry and silver for the Lobo Men’s Basketball program, a loyal season ticket holder until the age of 97 when he stopped driving.  And not one to ever forget his deep roots in running, Larry was a patron of the Sandia Prep Track & Field program, purchasing the still-used FAT Timing System for Duran Family Stadium.

Larry was preceded in death by his much-beloved wife of 67 years, Billie; two sisters, and three brothers.  He is survived by his four children:  Jerri, Judy (Jim), Fred (Rita) and Phil (Janelle); five grandchildren: Dawn (James), Greg (Lesley), Ryan (Liz), Jennice (Marley) and Jay Kory (Kristen); nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 11th.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Museum of Nuclear Science & History, Sandia Peak Ski Patrol, Sandia Prep T&F, Animal Humane NM or the charity of your choosing.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Lawrence Sherman Johnson, please visit our floral store.


Services

Memorial Service
Saturday
December 11, 2021

1:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church
215 Locust St. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87102

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