Roland Johnson was born in Enterprise in 1945 to C. Raymond and Laura Johnson, descendants of Joseph Johnson who was among the first white settlers in Wallowa County.
Roland’s folks were ranchers and although no younger Johnsons took to it, the 500-acre home ranch out Prairie Creek is still in the family.
Roland graduated from Enterprise High in 1963 and went to the University of Oregon to study economics. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he went on to study the law at the University of Washington, graduating with a Juris Doctor in 1970.
He didn’t come home right away, spending the next seven years with a downtown Seattle law firm. His practice included bankruptcy, municipal work, estate planning, workers comp, civil litigation and more.
He met Donna (McPhearson) from Enumclaw, Wash., while living in Seattle and the couple married in 1975. They have three children who live in Portland, Seattle and Gig Harbor.
Roland came back to Wallowa in 1977 and has practiced in the county for nearly 41 years.
Although he was a trial lawyer earlier in his career in both Seattle and Wallowa County, he began to feel the court schedule was in charge of his life and began turning down opportunities to litigate and moving toward what he enjoys the most: corporate and business law.
“I like putting together complex transactions,” he said.
He and Donna enjoy dinner with friends, traveling to visit their children and RVing.
They are active in their political party and contribute to the Wallowa County Health Care Foundation.
Q. Why live in Wallowa County?
A. It’s beautiful, my family is from here and I have roots here – the family connection is probably most of it.
Q. What has Wallowa County taught you?
Wallowa County is a place, and its people that teach you something. The one thing I learned when I went away and practiced law in an urban area is that people are people and people are pretty much the same here as they are everywhere. People always said it would be different practicing law in a rural area than in a city, but it was no different. There were dishonest people and honest people, ethical people and unethical people. I got a different lesson than a lot of (other) people.
Q. Can you recall a book you read when you were young that made an impression and can you recommend one you read recently?
A. I’ve got two for you: When I went to grade school, I went to a two-room school called Pratt School right across from our ranch. One of the teachers, after lunch, would read us a book. One she read that made an impression on me was (Pulitzer Prize Winning) Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth.” I would never have read that myself at that stage in my life, but she read it to us, and I can still remember a lot of detail. In high school I remember reading (National Book Award winning) William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” This was just 15 years or so after the Second World War. A recently read: Craig Symonds “World War II at Sea: A Global History.” I was and still am a WWII history buff.