Meet Gil Johnson — One of California’s 50 Most Notable People

Gil Johnson photo
In a VisionAware blog post dated March 26, 2013, Maureen Duffy penned an intriguing post about former LightHouse Board President Gil Johnson. To read the in-depth post, please visit the VisionAware blog. But first, here’s a short excerpt to whet your appetite:

No one else in my parents’ families had experienced vision loss, so neither my parents nor siblings had any familiarity with blindness. I don’t recall that less was expected of me than of my brothers and sister. There must have been activities that my parents didn’t want me to do or didn’t let me participate in, but I have always felt like I could do what I felt capable of doing. When my judgment was wrong, I learned from the mistake.

One evening I went with my father to keep an appointment he had. I elected to wait in the car
and while he was gone, I pretended to drive the car as many kids will do. I turned the wheel this way and that, shifted the gears using the clutch pedal, pressed the brake, and made motor sounds.

I heard a scraping sound from under the car and got out to see if I could tell what it was. I couldn’t find anything wrong, but I stopped playing and set the emergency brake. Soon I heard my father outside, saying “Where are you?” Apparently, I had steered the car around the corner and bumped into a lantern placed in front of a barricade on the street.

On another occasion, I went with my father to a fishing resort where he had some work to do. I wandered out on to a fishing pier and at the end found a row boat tied to the pier. I thought the boat should be closer to shore, so I got in, untied the boat, and began to row. Very shortly, I discovered that I couldn’t see the shoreline or the pier. I heard my father calling out “What are you doing out there?”

I wasn’t very good at rowing and was going around in circles and getting further from shore. He coached me back in. He didn’t say anything about either event, nor did he tell my mother – and I certainly didn’t tell her.