Obituaries | April 4, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - April 4, 2014


Lawrence Johnson

Lawrence "Larry" Johnson, a Hewlett-Packard materials engineer, died on March 22 in his Los Altos home, with his children by his side. He was 89.

Born in 1924, he grew up in Washington, D.C., the son of Aaron G. Johnson, a cereal crops scientist, and Ruth M. (Westcott) Johnson, pianist and homemaker. He went to school at Alice Deal Jr. High, then Woodrow Wilson High School. He also joined the cadets, played cello and graduated in 1942.

In 1942, Larry received a scholarship enabling him to attend Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). WWII interrupted; after basic training in Florida, he spent two quarters at Stanford University as part of the Army Special Training Program, studying electrical engineering. He served at Oceanside, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and the Presidio in San Francisco. He was discharged in 1946, and he returned to college. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in physics in '48 and a master's degree in electrical engineering in '49.

While in Pennsylvania, he met Isabel Beck, daughter of Pennzoil oil refiner, John Beck. They grew close and married in 1947. Their happiness was brief; she died in 1955.

Soon afterward, he became interested in moving back west. In 1956, he started working for Hewlett-Packard. He first worked in oscilloscopes before focusing on materials management and semi-conductors, creating a team that developed an innovative company-wide Preferred Parts Listing. He retired from HP after 30 years. He later worked at Trimble Navigation, eventually retiring three more times.

While at HP, he met Esther (Wilson) Hanson, a young widow herself with a son, Brad. They married in 1957 and soon built their first of three Los Altos houses. Together they enjoyed traveling, taking care of their corgis and vacationing at beach houses. Their marriage lasted 54 years, until Esther died in 2011.

He lived in Los Altos for 57 years. Among other hobbies, he loved listening to and collecting jazz music in LP, CD and other formats. He was a member of the HP Retired Employees Club, Beta Theta Pi fraternity and the Society of Stukely Westcott Descendants.

He is predeceased by brother Lewis R. Johnson and sisters Elizabeth W. Johnson and Marian Chase. He is survived by son Douglas S. Johnson of Mountain View; daughter Elizabeth R. J. M. Mamer (and her husband Phillip) of Caldwell, Idaho; stepson Bradley W. Hanson of Cobb, Calif.; and five grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on April 27 at 2 p.m. at the family home in Los Altos. A private ceremony to scatter Larry and Esther's ashes over Monterey Bay will happen in early summer.


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