Byron Johnson: a full life of poetry and public service

A draft of our second editorial for Wednesday.

Today, Idaho is shy one of its true characters — an original with a biography to match.

A Boise High School baseball pitcher who struck out a fellow Idaho native son destined for better days on the diamond: future Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.

A political aspirant who lost three runs for office — then landed, for more than a decade, on the state’s Supreme Court.

A student of his state’s heritage, who dedicated time and energy to preserving the history of his adopted home of Idaho City.

A Harvard-educated attorney who eschewed airs — starting with neckties in the courtroom.

A man who, above all, wanted to be known as a poet. And wrote his obituary to match.

Byron Johnson, who died Sunday at age 75, followed his muse and heeded his instincts. And on Jan. 6, his friends and family will gather at Barber Park’s Barber Events Center for a service of his choosing.

“He didn’t want a memorial service, but he did want a wake,” Johnson’s wife, Magistrate Judge Patricia Young, told the Statesman’s Dan Popkey. “He wanted a really good party. We’re going to have good whiskey there, and good food.”

A fitting tribute to a life lived fully.