Meridian Star


March 3, 2013

Johnny Marshall Litchfield

GIG HARBOR, Wash. —     Escorted to Heaven by God’s angels on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, after courageously defying lung cancer for over 12 years. Born on May 3, 1936, in Martin, Lauderdale County, Miss., he was the eldest of nine children of M. C. and Sybil (Phillips) Litchfield.

    After joining the U.S. Army, Johnny was stationed at Ford Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska; and then Fort Lewis, Tacoma. It was during his service at Fort Lewis that he met his future soul mate, Rita Kathleen Zehnder, in 1957 at Busch’s Drive-In on South Tacoma Way; a popular meeting place for young people at that time. His southern charm won her heart and they were married Oct. 5, 1957, at All Saints Church in Puyallup. After completing his U.S. Army service, Johnny served in the Washington State National Guard (full-time), working primarily at the Nike missile sites in the Puget Sound area. He left the Guard in 1966 to work at Emery Air Freight at Sea-Tac Airport; retiring from Emery in 1999. After Rita retired, they spent many years traveling and RV’ing around the country, meeting many friends and enjoying wondrous places along the way. Johnny was an avid outdoorsman; he especially loved fishing.

    Johnny is survived by the loves of his life: wife, Rita; daughters: Michele Marie Willoughby (Rob Newkirk), Marilyn Ann Mihok (Lance), and Melanie Kathleen Litchfield; son, John Joseph Litchfield (Julie); grandsons: Kevin Willoughby (Sarah), Nathan Mihok, and Jeffrey Mihok; granddaughter, Kelsey Willoughby Baydo (Adam); and, great-grandchildren: Wyatt Willoughby, Aubrey Baydo, baby girl Willoughby due in June, and baby Baydo due in September. He is also survived by five of his younger siblings: Calvin Litchfield (Judy), Ola Rigdon (Kenneth), Emma Sue Litchfield, Sarah Ann Boatner (John), and Jimmy Ray Litchfield; and special cousin, Arlene Baker, all of Mississippi.

    Special thanks to Dr. Frank Senecal and the Gig Harbor staff, and Franciscan Hospice, for their compassionate care.

    Johnny was a man of strong Christian values, a loving role-model for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was liked by all who knew him; and will be missed forever by his precious loves who were so blessed to have him in their lives. Praise God!

    A memorial service will be held at a later date.

    In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the American Lung Association in memory of Johnny Marshall Litchfield or to Caring Bridge at

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