Obituaries & Tributes

Sara Jo Smith Johnson

Sara Jo Johnson, 76, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, passed away on Sept. 9, 2020, due to non-smokers lung cancer that metastasized from a rare pleomorphic sarcoma.

She was born in Shelton, Washington, on April 15, 1944, to James Floyd Smith and Leona Elma Fox Smith. Sara was the fifth of seven children.

Most of Sara’s schooling was at McKenzie High School, just before moving to Moclips, Washington, where she finished her junior year and then Hoquiam, Washington, where she graduated from Hoquiam High School. Later, Sara attended business classes at Lane Community College. Her favorite class was speech. She obtained her Oregon real estate license. Sara was a lifelong student who loved learning and was also an avid reader and researcher.

Sara’s career consisted of working 12 years at Carlton Oiling Systems in Cottage Grove as the owner and secretary. She was also the owner of Bates Health Food Store, and from there she worked many successful years in furniture sales including decorating a Street of Dreams home in Sisters, Oregon. 

She married Terry Carlton in 1964 and divorced in 1983. They had two children, Larry Carlton in 1965 and Teresa (Carlton) Boyce in 1967. The family called Cottage Grove their home.

In 1985, Sara happily married John R. Johnson at a private wedding ceremony officiated by his father, Pastor Rudy Johnson. They enjoyed 35 years together. He was the love of her life. They enjoyed living in Olympia, Washington; Gilbert, Arizona; Eugene; and Cottage Grove. 

She was preceded in death by her parents; baby brother William Patrick Smith; brother Floyd D. Smith; sister Merlyn (Smith) Richards; and sister Patricia (Smith) Buck.

She is survived by her brother, Richard (Patti) Smith of McClearly, Washington; brother Bob (Nancy) Smith of Sequim, Washington; many special nieces and nephews; and children Larry (Tena) Carlton, Teresa (Darin) Boyce; four grandsons, Garett Boyce, Derek Carlton, Reily Boyce and Dylan Carlton. 

Family was the most important thing to Sara and she treasured every minute with them. Her grandsons stole her heart forever, whether it included sports, school dances, “The Lion King,” awards banquets, the high school lunch bunch gang, or any other adventure.

She enjoyed spontaneous adventures and traveling, decorating her home, working in her yard and dancing. In 1960, Sara was crowned the queen of the McKenzie River Boat Parade. Sara was the 1972 Oregon State Bowling All Events champion. In 1982, Sara won the twist dancing contest at her 20th class reunion. 

A highlight of her life was coordinating the class of 1962 McKenzie 10-year reunions, and for the last three years, the all-class McKenzie High School potluck reunions held at the Leaburg Lake Park. It was very meaningful for her. 

Sara lived a full life and had no regrets. Always thinking of others, she was a selfless person. Her mottos were, “it is what it is,” “it’s not over ‘til it’s over,” and “dance yourself silly.”

There is no memorial service planned. Condolences and cards can be sent to Teresa Boyce, PO Box 1602 Cottage Grove, OR 97424. To honor her memory, and those family members who served, support the veterans. 



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