Cover photo for Val Baker Johnson's Obituary
Val Baker Johnson Profile Photo
1941 Val 2021

Val Baker Johnson

March 6, 1941 — November 12, 2021

VAL BAKER JOHNSON: husband, father, brother, friend, grandfather, packer, mule-man, teacher, and political scientist passed away Friday morning, November 12, 2021, at Grace Assisted Living in Twin Falls, ID with his family by his side. Val was born in Nampa, ID March 6, 1941 to Marie Baker and Lafe Gwilliam Johnson. He was raised in Cascade and joined by sister Sharon and later, brother Joe. Being older, Val was their caregiver and backbone of the family for many years. As a youngster he traveled to the back country with his dad, uncles, grandpa and grandma to the Snowshoe Cabin area, many summers herding sheep. Val graduated from Cascade High School in 1959 and went to Brigham Young University that fall. The second semester he tried the University of Idaho, but did not like beer, so transferred back to BYU and graduated in 1963 with a degree in Political Science. Figuring he would get drafted, he enrolled in the US Air Force Officer Training School in San Antonio, Texas in November of 1963. Thereafter, he was assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC) HQs at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska as a 2nd Lt. Photo Intelligence Officer. It was here that he met Stephen P. Mealey with whom he would later partner and run an outfitting and guide business in Salmon. Val was sent to Vietnam from December 1965 until December 1966. Upon his return, in his new blue GTO with white leather interior, he made it to Offutt AFB for a New Year's Eve party where he first met Sara Lee McConnell, also an AF Intelligence Officer. Val and Sara were married June 9, 1967, at the Offutt AFB Chapel. Their USAF obligations were met within two weeks of each other in February of 1968 at which time they moved to Salmon, Idaho, and with Steve Mealey, started Nez Perce Outfitters and Guides. Big-game hunting and summer float and pack trips were the result. Val and Sara bought 120 acres on the Salmon River, which was ideal for keeping pack string animals and later Hereford cows and pigs. Val and Steve sold the outfitting business in 1971 and Val opted to go to Idaho State University to get his teaching certificate in Social Studies. He kept the float business for a few years and continued his many backcountry explorations. Daughters Laurie and Suzie were born in 1968 and 1969, respectively, and they all lived in the old log house. The pastures were irrigated via ditches from a pipeline just south along the Salmon River. Wheel lines were added when the kids were gone! In 1971, they built a house east above the highway, and Erik came along in 1974. For the 25+ years that Val taught at Salmon High School, his voice rang through the hallways. The relationships that he developed with students and faculty went beyond the classroom and continued throughout his life. In 1978, Val was instrumental in joining three Montana state chapters of Back Country Horsemen, with a newly formed Salmon River Back Country Horsemen, the first in Idaho. Val, Dave Couch and Richard Smith were the visionaries for the future Back Country Horseman of America. Now in 2021 there are 30+ chapters throughout the US and Canada. Val’s extreme love of the backcountry and his mules were part of his DNA. His favorite mule, Reuben, carried him thousands of miles, and still carries his grandchildren today. He shared his appreciation of mules, hunting, and the backcountry with his children and grandchildren. Lick Creek hunting camp and fellow riding companion stories abound to this day. From plaza backgammon games in Turkey, travel to India, visiting Suzie wherever she was stationed, 30 days with Cole in South Africa, rodeoing with Erik, and attending high school sports with grandchildren, Val so enjoyed seeing different places and varied cultures. In 2009, Val and Sara purchased a second home in Arizona, where his pace slowed to the desert and warmer climate. Val is survived by wife Sara of 54 years; daughter Laura Marie (Bill) Lickley of Jerome, ID, grandchildren Valene Marie Lickley and Cole Johnson (Anna) Lickley; daughter Suzanna Kay Hardy and grandsons Andrew Johnson Hardy and Kyle William Hardy; and son Erik McConnell Johnson of ltopia, WA, and grandchildren Tiegan Grace, Tessa Faith, and Traver Imes Johnson. He is also survived by his sister Sharon (Joe) Stippich of Weiser and half-brother Joe (Marla) Worthington of Red Oak, IA. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Salmon Public Library or your favorite educational or outdoor charity in memory of Val. A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held at the Salmon High School Gymnasium on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, at 1:00 P.M., with a reception to follow at the Salmon Elks Lodge. Those who wish may share memories and condolences on Val’s Memorial Page at The family will gather next summer to scatter his ashes in the backcountry, as he requested. Arrangements are under the caring direction of Parke’s Magic Valley Funeral Home of Twin Falls. YOUTUBE Service Link To view Val's Video Memory Video Link Here:
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Starts at 1:00 pm (Mountain time)

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