Goodbye Old Friend

May 3, 2021

Goodbye old friend, how you will be missed…

An industry icon was lost a few weeks ago, with Gale Johnson passing away the morning of March 23. I had been somewhat expecting the call from his wife, Muriel, but it still came as a shock. I felt like a child being left alone for the first time.

In addition to being the editor of the Locksmith Ledger for 30+ years, Gale was a family friend, a business partner, an encyclopedia of locksmith knowledge and so much more. I met him at a Ledgerworld in the ’80s when he worked for Bill Reed. He always had a story and certainly always took the time to help out anyone at any time. We shared an interest in hockey; he as a referee and me as a player.

In 2000, we became business partners. Gale had “computerized” the Reed Code Book system and introduced one of the first code lookup programs back in the DOS days (Computext if you go back that far). After an ownership change left the program hanging without much interest from the new group, Framon offered to market the program for Gale. For the past 20 years, we have had a wonderful partnership in which there was never a written contract, only a handshake.

I spoke with Gale weekly, sometimes daily. I always understood that when I contacted him for information, there would be a new idea, some type of trinket, shortcut, tool or other item that he had in the front of his mind that we would spend time discussing. I have one sitting on my desk now, somewhat unfinished, because it was the last invention that he sent to me. It always will have a place on my desk as a reminder of him.

Maybe someday it will make it to the market. I spoke with Clyde Roberson from Medeco shortly after I got the news of Gale’s passing. Clyde had the opportunity to talk with Gale just a few days ago, and he indicated that the new idea was a topic of their conversation among other things.

Gale still played an active role in Genericode, collecting information for us and putting data together regularly. In recent years, his involvement was a bit limited, but the backbone of our program still has Gale’s work throughout. He was my “go to” guy when I had questions about a key blank, code series, lock system and so much more. Our ability to draw information from the internet these days is wonderful, but what the industry lost a couple months ago can’t be found anywhere online.

All of us at Framon send the Johnson family, the staff at Locksmith Ledger and the locksmith industry, our deepest condolences. Gale’s footprint on so much of this trade will never be replaced. Rest in peace, old friend.

Phil Agius is vice president, sales & marketing for Framon Manufacturing Co., Inc.