Lemley Chapel
Serving Sedro-Woolley &
All of Skagit County Since 1935
1008 Third Street
Sedro-Woolley, WA
Robert ‘Big Bob’ Johnston Memorial
Robert ‘Big Bob’ Johnston Memorial

Robert ‘Big Bob’ Johnston

Robert ‘Big Bob’ Johnston

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Robert T. ‘Big Bob’ Johnston, 67, a lifelong resident of Sedro-Woolley, passed away at his home on April 1, 2020.

Bob was born on August 27, 1952 in Sedro-Woolley, the son of Robert W. ’Bud’ and Virginia M. (Byham) Johnston.  Bob was raised and attended school in Sedro-Woolley, graduating from SWHS with the class of 1970.

Bob attended Bellingham Tech getting a degree in diesel mechanics.  He then worked at the National Frozen Foods Cannery in Burlington for several years keeping the motor vehicles and other cannery equipment in working order.

Bob was a gear head and enjoyed working on and restoring classic cars and hot rods, and was known for his car painting talents.

Whenever Bob was asked what his favorite food was he would emphatically answer “Pizza and cake”.

Bob is survived by his longtime companion, Becky Mager; step-children, Jerimiah Palmer and Amanda Winters; step-grandchildren, Jerimiah and Justin Palmer, Madison Heller, and Hunter, Chloe, Jackson, Lincoln and Summer Winters;  his brother, Tim Johnston of Coos Bay, OR and niece, Lisa Johnston and nephew, Tony Johnston.  He was preceded in death by his parents.   A Go Fund Me account has been established for Becky at gofundmebobjohnston c/o Amanda Winters.

A Celebration of Life gathering will be held at a later date.  Cremation arrangements are under direction of Lemley Chapel, Sedro-Woolley.  Share memories of Bob and sign the online guest register.


  • Tara Banoie

    Bob was my dads best friend. They built cars together and most memories i have of my dad Bob was in. We last touch over the years and then re connected when we moved in a few doors down. He will be greatly missed. Xoxo

  • Peggy Hatley

    I first met Big Bob in the early 90’s. I was walking across a gas station parking lot to go pay for my gas, when I heard this awesome rumbling sound of a muscle car behind me. I turned to look, and there was my car. A beautiful Robin’s Egg Blue and white 1957 Chevy station wagon. I watched as she drove by and pulled up to a pump, and I immediately made a beeline to the driver’s window, where I informed the guy inside “I WANT YOUR CAR!” He looked up at me, pretty startled, and said ‘Well, sorry, it’s not for sale.” I’m sure he was thinking ‘who on earth is this crazy woman that I’ve never met, asking me for my car!!’ I introduced myself, explained my love for that particular car, and from then on, whenever I would see Bob, I would remind him that I still wanted his car. We had a lot of laughs over the years about our first meeting, and I guess he’d decided that I wasn’t so crazy after all, because a few years later he called me and said ‘if you still want her, she’s for sale.’ I became the proud owner of ‘Maxine’ but even better, we’d gained a wonderful new friend in Bob. He introduced us to new friends in JJ’s Cruisers car club and a whole new life of car shows and rod runs, and the comradery of being with fellow gear heads. Such good times and good friends, with Bob always being one of the group we looked forward to seeing and spending time with. If you were his friend, he was a TRUE FRIEND. Bill, Will and I were so very saddened to hear the news of losing him. Bob was a gentle giant of a man, and leaves a huge hole in a lot of hearts. Becky, my heart breaks for you. I know how much you loved him, and how much he loved you. My arms are around you in the biggest hug, until I can do it in person. Please know you and the kids are in our thoughts. Take care. Love, Peggy

  • Alan Benfield

    I painted one of my muscle cars a color that Bob recommended. It was the best looking of all my cars.
    Thanks Bob

  • Ed and Nanci Hedington

    Just saw the Obituary. I met Bob,when my family moved into the house next door in 1962. We became close friends. In our teens we enjoyed working on cars together, then worked at the cannery in Burlington. He was the best man at my wedding, we went on several trips to Reno together and on drives often looking for cars to buy. He was my best friend and those times we spent together will always remain special memories.

  • Jonathon Keith Kusler

    Sure hated to see Bobs passing.What a huge personality and talent.You painted 2 rigs for me and did such fantastic work.And a amazing guy to hang out with and talk engines and cars.Rest in Peace and with the Lord.

  • Julie drake

    Cousin Bob was a gentle giant! I had never seen anyone so tall as a kid! I was the Seattle cousin who would come and stay in the summer! Very fond memories! Rest in pease my giant gentle cousin❤️

  • Debbie Stafford

    Hard to believe this gentle giant is gone, the world has lost a wonderful person who made everyone he came into contact with feel like family. He had a smile that
    lit up the room when he entered, gave the best bear hugs and lived his life to the fullest. You will be greatly missed my brother of the 💖 Thank you for being a part of my life. Till we meet again.

  • Karin Bagnall Poage

    Our cousin Bob had a beautiful voice and a brilliant sense of comic timing—his stories were legendary in our family. He was a kind and gentle person, so gifted mechanically, and such an eye for beauty in vehicles and in his life partner. What a wonderful blessing Becky has been to him for the last 21 + years. Like my brother Bill, I will close with a memory. The scene: Sedro-Woolley’s 4th of July parade—about 1962. Bob on his bike, the basket of the bike filled with female mannequin heads, red crepe paper streamers simulating blood. Bob pedaling down the parade route with a sign that labelled him Jack the Ripper, and me in a bike trailer, labelled with a sign that said “My Next Victim.” I can’t think of him without a smile and tears.

  • Bill Byham Bagnall

    Cousin Bob made every visit to Sedro-Woolley special and memorable. While the adults gathered in Aunt Virginia and Uncle Bud’s kitchen, Bob and the “Bagrags” (Uncle Bud’s nickname for the Bagnall cousins) would be entertained by our older, amazing Cousin Bob. There are too many memorable stories to share here, but let’s just say that I’ll continue to hold Bob, and the town of Sedro-Woolley in my heart forever.

    Okay, just a few memory teasers: tote goat, firecrackers, the Bat Room, Beatles Records, fast cars, BB guns, dart guns, the gravel pit, 4th or July Carnivals, sleepover at Aunt Mary’s apartment on Talcott Street, great food, laughter and sentimental family time.


    Bob was a great guy, he will be missed by many. Painted a few cars for me,always was happy. Condolences and prayers for his family.

  • Dan and Pat

    Dan and I are so, sad to hear about Bob. He was such a talented painter, and a good friend to so many people. We are thinking about all of you at this very trying time.