February 22, 1938 – March 13, 2020
Norm grew up in Castlegar, and kept in touch with many friends from those times. A gift for all things mechanical led him to choose mechanical engineering as a profession. After two years of study, he took time out to work on the construction of a pulp mill in his home town. He then returned to UBC where he received a BASc and MASc in Mechanical Engineering. He met Laurel Page, his love and partner, a student in home economics. They wed in 1964.
Norm’s company, N.A. Johnson Ltd., was a one person office in 1966. He quickly decided that as an inventive engineer, holding several patents for equipment used in high-lead and helicopter logging, that manufacturing was his bent. Also as an astute business-man, he expanded his company profile by forming Johnson Industries, Ltd. He began manufacturing braking equipment, and purchased a company in England adding electrical brakes to his product line. Some of the more prestigious projects Norm was directly involved in include the NASA Kennedy space center, Cirque du Soleil stage in Las Vegas, US Navy nuclear submarines, Google Energy Kite, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Sarcophagus, and many steel mills, mines and ports, throughout the world.
Norm did not neglect service to his profession. He served as a member of the Council of Professional Engineers for many years and became president in 1979. The Canadian Council elected him national president in 1985. He was also very active in the Calling of an Engineer, a rite of passage for all graduating engineers. As Master of Ceremonies, he delivered the main address to the students culminating in the presentation of the iron ring, a symbol of the engineer’s obligation to serve society. His speeches were colorful, and controversial and brought many students to his door searching for a mentor. One student remarked “if you get a job with Norm, it’s like earning an MBA”.
He loved the outdoors, and is the subject of many tall tales of successful, and eventful hunting adventures. Every year, right to his last days, Norm applied for Limited Entry draws, enlisted family and friends to travel all over BC in pursuit of game, spectacular scenery, and camaraderie.
Norm was a rare personality: funny, annoying, amusing, eccentric, bombastic, loving, a little subversive, smart and honorable. He was a very good person. He will be profoundly missed by his wife, Laurel, his two sons, Lawrence (Heather, who predeceased him), grandchildren Devin and Briana; and Derek (Christine), grandchildren Brandon and Andrew.
A Celebration of Life will follow when the virus is defeated. The family asks that you send no flowers please but instead give to the food bank or hospital closest to you.
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