Ziptide, May 2021

May 3, 2021

Remembering Gale Johnson

The following are a sampling of the many kind messages we’ve received after the death of longtime Editor-In-Chief Gale Johnson. See page 60  of this issue for our tribute article, The Locksmith Industry Loses an Icon, originally published online in March.

I met Gale at my first SHDA Industry Advancement Summit. Despite me being new to the industry, he told me he was impressed with me and hoped to talk soon! Hearing that from him, an industry icon, meant more than I can express. All my sympathy to the team at Locksmith Ledger. Gale's memory will continue to be a blessing to all who knew him.

— Kara Kuntz

Director of Marketing


I met Gale in 1985 and always enjoyed talking to Gale. From the long list of national and regional trade shows around the country to the good old LedgerWorld presentation, Gale was there. Milling around before or after I'd been teaching a class or out on the show floor, Gale was there. Whenever I had a question until he retired, we'd email or call each other to address an industry issue or just shoot the breeze. Gale was always there for me, for us.

Thank you, Gale, for sharing your vast knowledge. It was fun to talk to you; it was easy to talk to you; and it was valuable to talk to you. I'll honor you by always sharing any piece of information I can with any lock or safe technician I encounter — just like you showed me!

— Tom Gillespie

Gale was a close friend for many years. Steve Lasky, your eloquent words resonated a true understanding of our friend. We at Houdini are deeply saddened to hear of this news.

I often would spend time with Gale at an ASIS or ISC show where he would say to me, “I’m here as the editor of the Locksmith Ledger, but what are you doing here? This show isn’t for locksmiths.” I then explained that we are more than physical-security experts. Many like myself are security engineers, and what we see at these shows will shape the future. I think he caught on very well, because his editorials shaped the direction of the Locksmith Ledger readers to seek new opportunities and affected other periodicals in the industry. He had a dry sense of humor, but he could laugh. May his memory be for a blessing.

— Larry Schwalb

Houdini Lock & Safe

At the news of Gale Johnson’s passing, my mind has been full of memories of our interactions. Gale was like a grandfather in the locksmith world to me. I started my career as a locksmith in 2011, working at my father’s lockshop alongside my father and my brother. One of my first memories of Gale rings the loudest. I had been a part of our family’s business for roughly a month, when my brother and father had to leave town. I was left to run the shop on my own, and my knowledge was very sparse.  A customer had come in with a file-cabinet lock and needed a key made for it. I had never used our code-cutting machine before, and I was lost. Gale taught me how to use the Framon2 code cutter over the phone. He always had the most patient, calm and willing-to-help voice. Gale had a way of making me feel so confident and capable.

Over the following years, I had the pleasure of talking with Gale about many things, including key codes and masterkey systems. I feel honored to have had a personal connection with Gale. I always will remember him with a great respect and fondness. 

— Autumn Hasibar

Ketchikan Lock & Key

Ketchikan, Alaska 

In 1980, I met Gale when he was teaching an ABLOY class in the Chicago area. After class, he sold me a thin booklet on making keys for foreign cars. That little booklet helped me to survive the lean times of my business startup. Forty years later, I've had a great career in part because of Gale's work. I owe him a deep debt of gratitude. You will be remembered. Thank you and Godspeed. RIP Gale Johnson.

— Bruce Eagan

Senior Product Marketing Manager

Master Lock

Gale Johnson was the kindest, sweetest man quite possibly in the entirety of the locksmith industry.  I had the pleasure of working with him on numerous articles over the last decade and we remained in touch up until his retirement late last year. He would always make it a point to visit me in my booth at the various trade shows and I absolutely treasured every single one of our interactions.

I will always miss you and will remember you fondly. You had the most wonderful way with words, in writing, and especially in person. Rest in peace, my friend.

Mo Ali 

Vice President of Product Development

American Key Supply