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Cariboo pioneer, entrepreneur Rudy Johnson dies at 100 years old

Johnson was most widely known for building the Rudy Johnson Bridge

One of Williams Lake’s oldest and most well-known residents has died.

Rudy Johnson had just turned 100 years old on Dec. 13. City councillor Scott Nelson made the announcement Dec. 22 on behalf of Johnson’s immediate family. Nelson is also family himself, having married Johnson’s granddaughter, Twila Nelson.

Originally from Sweden, Johnson led an ambitious life in the Cariboo as a businessman working in the construction and forestry industries before going into ranching with the purchase of the Buckskin Land and Cattle Company in 1962. But he is perhaps best know for building the Rudy Johnson Bridge, which he was inspired to construct in the late 1960s after his beloved wife Helen almost drown in the Fraser River while crossing the river on the Soda Creek ferry.

Rudy and Helen were married 77 years and had six children.

Granddaughter Twila Nelson, herself a successful businesswoman in Williams Lake, had her grandfather at the grand opening of her new liquor store earlier this year to cut the ribbon.

“My grandpa has been an incredible businessman all his life … I’m very proud of him and I aspire to be a businessperson just like he was,” Nelson told the Tribune.

In recent years Johnson lived at the Williams Lake Seniors Village.

Scott Nelson said the family is planning a celebration of life for Johnson Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 1 p.m. at the Cariboo Bethel Church in the basement.

To read more about Johnson’s incredible life see the story below, written by Monica Lamb-Yorski.

Read More: CASUAL COUNTRY 2021: The legacy of Rudy Johnson and the bridge

With a file from Monica Lamb Yorski.

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Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

I began my journalism career in daily and weekly newspapers in Alberta.
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