Phyllis Johnson, 64, of Joseph was born and raised in the county. She’s the daughter of pioneers Mildred and Chet Hafer of Troy. She went to school for four years on Eden Bench, four years in Troy, and then boarded out for the school year in Enterprise until graduation in 1971.
She attended Pendleton Beauty School, and 48 years later she’s still cutting hair at her salon, PJ’s Cutting Edge, 113 Main Street in Enterprise.
She began that career working for Ruth Davis in Joseph.
She married Wally Johnson in 1979 when he was working at the Joseph mill. Wally, like Phyllis, stayed with his first job choice. He was a yard foreman at the Joseph mill, later moved to Rogge’s mill and now works for Clearwater in Clarkston, Wash.
The couple raised three children, two of whom still live very close, and enjoy spending time with their seven grandchildren.
Phyllis hasn’t had the time for volunteer work outside her job, but she has folded community care into her workday by doing hair for people in care facilities or in their homes.
She’s looking forward to retirement.
Q. You’ve lived your whole life in Wallowa County. Did you ever look out and think you wanted to try somewhere else?
A. I could have done well (with my business) outside the county, but I’ve had the honor of doing some customers’ hair for 48 years here. That’s a pretty amazing thing. This is where Wally and I made our home. It’s been a good life and my work has been good for me. I’m more a country girl, and I was happy here. Raising my kids here was absolutely wonderful. You can’t beat if for raising kids and having them be a part of things that will be good for them.
Q. What do you see, good or bad, in Wallowa County’s future?
A. Job-wise I’m scared to death for Wallowa County. This is such a beautiful area, so peaceful — we attract tourism with the four seasons and beauty. I think some businesses (will adapt); some we probably won’t have, some will be struggling and some will do fine. It’s so sad to see all of the timber industry go because that’s what was really making our county (economically).
Q. A lot of people who have made their living elsewhere, now want to retire to Wallowa County to enjoy the good things. What are you looking forward to as retirees in the county?
A. We’ll have had both the struggle of earning wages here and the fun of living here. When you’ve spent your entire life in Wallowa County, you won’t have been able to save what you wanted to save for retirement — but we’ll be fine. I’m really looking forward to having more time to spend with grandkids, raising a garden, going camping, all the good stuff.