Vail Daily column: Donald William Johnson, 1943-2016

Donald William Johnson, 73, of Wolcott, passed away at his home Monday.

Don “Dozer” Johnson was born in Charlevoix, Michigan, on Jan. 22, 1943, the youngest of four boys. He graduated from East Jordan High School and attended Ferris State University, where he studied education and played football. He later was a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves and served two years in active duty.

Dozer came to Colorado from Michigan in 1961, with a borrowed suitcase and skis, in search of new adventure in the West. After ski patrolling in Breckenridge and a year with the Vail Trail Crew, Dozer earned a position on the Vail Ski Patrol, where he became an integral part of the Vail Valley community and solidified his place in the valley’s history as a true Vail pioneer.

He was married to Susan Wigglesworth on July 3, 1970, in the Vail Chapel by the Rev. Don Simonton. They were happily married for 46 years and blessed with one son, Theodore “Teddy” Johnson.

In 1972, Dozer and Susan built in then-remote Lake Creek with newborn Teddy. Dozer patrolled winters and worked on the mountain in the summer, where he got his first opportunity to run heavy equipment. He started his own excavating company, Edwards Excavating, in 1982, which is still family owned and operated by his son, Teddy, today. Dozer hung up his hard hat in 2005 and has since been hunting, fishing, traveling and spending time with friends, family and the love of his life, Susan.

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Dozer’s love of children inspired him to become a founding board member of Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District, a Buddy Werner board member and coach as well as a friend and playmate to all children in his life, both young and old. He was a true patriot and loved his country.

Dozer and Susan lived in their Lake Creek log cabin until 2008 when they moved to Wolcott’s Horse Mountain Ranch to their multi-generational family compound with Teddy and his family. The wide open spaces of Wolcott were a great base for the many four wheeler adventures and fishing trips Dozer would enjoy with his neighboring grandchildren who will greatly miss their “Bapa.”

He is preceded in death by mother, Ruth Overmyer. Dozer is survived by his loving wife, Susan; his son, Ted; daughter-in-law Susanne; and his three grandchildren, Camille, Charlotte and Teddy Jr. He is also survived by his three brothers, Richard (Jean), of Michigan and Florida, Robert (Diane), of Florida and Fred (Sue), of Michigan.

A celebration of life will be held on July 14 at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his name to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, 5705 Grant Creek Road, Missoula, MT 59808.

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