Fred was born in Billings, and lived there until 1972, when the family moved to Laurel. He played baseball on the Optimist Park Little League as center fielder, and pitched one game (a no hitter) before moving to Laurel. He went to Boys' State while in Laurel High School and graduated from Laurel with a National Merit Scholarship from 3M Engineering. He went to MSC at Bozeman and decided he would rather work in a national park. He went to California and got a job at Yosemite National Park's beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel. He worked a few Bracebridge Dinners (Yosemite's greatest tradition) and saw Queen Elizabeth when she visited the park in the 1980s.
Fred learned a lot about wine at the Ahwanhee and wrote a wine column for the Yosemite Sentinal for about a year, then went back to school to learn enology (wine making). He moved to Fresno and continued working for the park in their reservations office in Fresno and as a server at a very nice restaurant. He put himself through college that way, and graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor's degree in enology with honors.
After graduation, he married, bought a home in Napa and worked at several wineries. He also worked as a server at some of Napa's finest restaurants. When the boys came along, they were included in everything the family did. Camping and hiking were favorites, as was the Fourth of July at the Veterans Home in Napa.
Fred loved nature and was a consummate steward of the earth, teaching his boys to be the same way. Fred's Grandpa Halverson taught Fred how to fly-fish, how to tie flies and how to play chess. Fred taught his boys to play chess when they were pretty young, and they really took to it. He flew the boys to Montana and they went on weeklong camping, hiking and sightseeing trips.
Fred was an intelligent man, a man with great integrity, and he had many and varied interests, cooking being at the top of the list along with shopping at Costco and on Amazon while always looking for the best price for the best quality. He liked the Lord of the Rings series, all the Planet Earth series, reading books of many subjects (Sci-Fi was a favorite), music of all kinds, Kahlil Gibran, and too many other things to mention here.
After 18 years of marriage, Fred and his wife divorced and he came back to Montana, but after 30-plus years, he really missed California and considered it his home. He and his sister Heidi became very close while he was here, and each cherished their times spent together. He worked as a server while in Billings.
Fred was an excellent father, son and brother. Simply put, he was a good man. He was loved and will be missed by his California family and friends and all his Montana family, friends, and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
He is survived by his sons Jared and Eric Johnson of Napa, Calif.; mother Judy Johnson and sister Heidi Johnson, both of Laurel; and his father Will Johnson of Billings.
He was preceded in death by his sister Stacy Archer; grandparents Vic and Dorothy Halverson; and his much-loved cat, Chester.
Rest in eternal peace and love, Fred.
An account for Jared and Eric has been set up at Community First Credit Union, P.O. Box 2370 #46053, Napa, CA 94558. A service at the First Methodist Church in Napa was held for Fred on April 20, 2013. A private family memorial will be held at a later date in Montana.