The Curry Coastal Pilot

Lloyd E. Johnson, 96, who since 1989 has lived part-time in Brookings, died Oct. 3, 2011, in Portland.

He was a retired assistant director of research at Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc., where he worked for his entire 37-year career.

Mr. Johnson was a former chairman of the Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals, a charter member of the Rotary Club of Peoria North (founded 1968) and a former chairman of the Congressional Action and State Affairs Committee of the Peoria Association of Commerce.

At Caterpillar, Mr. Johnson was listed as the inventor and a major or sole contributor on 18 U.S. Letters of Patent in diesel and gas turbine engine technology. In the late 1930s, Mr. Johnson helped bring Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance plans to Caterpillar.

During World War II, Mr. Johnson worked on aircraft and other engine research projects that Caterpillar did for the military. In 1954 he initiated research on gas turbine engines for Caterpillar and managed its gas turbine research program for 14 years.

For many years, Mr. Johnson represented Caterpillar at meetings of the Society of Automotive Engineers. At SAE, he served as chairman of its Central Illinois Section, chairman of its national Power Plant Activity Committee and chairman of its national Publication Advisory Committee.

Early in his career, Mr. Johnson moonlighted as an architect for a home builder in Eureka, Ill., and designed and built two homes for his family in East Peoria. The second home, in which he lived until his death, incorporates many innovative energy-saving features based on principles described in his 1948 magazine article, "Solar Heating, Radiant Heating, and the Heat Pump."

In 1949 and 1950, Mr. Johnson tested what is now known as ethanol on his new 1949 Ford for the Peoria Research Laboratory of the United States Department of Agriculture. After retirement, he served on auto industry advisory boards and was a consultant.

Mr. Johnson was born Oct. 31, 1914, in Sioux City, Iowa. His parents were Thyrza Horswell Johnson and J. Ed Johnson, a traveling buggy whip salesman, real estate investor and residential landlord. Mr. Johnson graduated at the top of his class of about 300 in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University in 1937.

Upon graduating from Iowa State, Mr. Johnson married Rosemae Johnson (Iowa State 1936) who died in 1984.

In 1986, he married Verla Kelley of Washington, Ill., the widow of another Caterpillar research engineer, Bruce Kelley. In 1989, they purchased a second home in Brookings, where they spent part of every year enjoying the ocean view, new friends, and visits from their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He frequently attended Rotary meetings in Brookings.

Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife Verla, and sons Donald E.L. Johnson (Susan Alt), Greenwood Village, Colo., Allen L. Johnson (Susan Brody), Portland. His daughter Barbara Jean Seljan of Eugene, died of breast cancer in 2008. Mr. Johnson's five grandsons are Nate Johnson (Aimee Boutin) Tallahassee, Fla., Nick Johnson, Eugene, Mike Johnson, Berkeley, Calif., Jacob Seljan (Hillary Crook), St.Paul, Minn., and Sam Seljan (Ellen Moule), Portland. His great-grandchildren are Alex and Zita Boutin-Johnson, Tallahassee. He has 14 step- grandchildren and eight step-great-grandchildren. He also is survived by his stepchildren David Kelley (Gail) Lovettsville, Va., Max Kelley (Paula Cathey). Watsonville, Calif., Jeffry Kelley (Marylin), Woodacre, Calif., Bradford Kelley, Fairfax, Calif., Kurtis Kelley (Diane), St. George, Maine, and Jana Ley (Rodney), Fort Collins, Colo.

Mr. Johnson's family will hold private receptions in his memory in Portland and East Peoria. Remembrances may be contributed in his name to Community Paul Harris Fellow Award fund of the Rotary Club of Peoria North, P.O. Box 9062, Peoria, IL 61612.

Submitted by the family.