Nine months after Cody Lee Johnson was murdered in Glacier National Park by his wife of only eight days, friends and family gathered at a small and intimate memorial service April 6, just two days before what would have been Johnson’s 26th birthday. The service took place at Faith Baptist Church in Kalispell and included the unveiling of a small memorial plaque.
Friends and church members who spoke remembered Johnson as a deeply religious man who loved his friends and fast cars.
“I never saw someone who lived such a short time and yet had so many friends,” Paster Clint Theline said during the service. “There’s no crying today, this is a celebration (of Cody’s life).”
The Sunday evening memorial took place 10 days after Johnson’s wife, Jordan Graham, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for pushing the Kalispell man off a 300-foot ledge near The Loop in Glacier Park last summer. Johnson and Graham were married June 30, 2013 but soon after Graham started having second thoughts about their nuptials. Late on July 7, the couple was having an argument near The Loop trail when, according to Graham, in a sudden fit of rage she pushed Johnson to his death. Graham initially covered up the murder and said that Johnson had left their Kalispell home with “car buddies,” but four days later she led friends and family to his body. On July 16, during an interview with the FBI, Graham admitted that she had pushed her husband off the cliff.
Following a sermon from Theline on April 6, friends of Johnson shared their favorite memories of the man who often gave more than he received. Max Rocha worked with Johnson at Nomad Global Communications Solutions and recalled one evening after a softball game when he lost his car keys in the field. Even as the light faded to darkness, and everyone else had given up, Johnson was wandering the field using his cellphone as a light trying to find Rocha’s missing keys.
“That was just Cody,” Rocha said. “He was always willing to help people.”
Almost everyone mentioned Johnson’s love of fixing up and racing cars and his tendency to drive fast. Like many of the stories told during the 90-minute service, the result was usually laughter rather than tears.
“Whenever I got into a car with Cody at the wheel, I made sure that I was right with the man upstairs before we went anywhere,” Lisa Bell said.
Following the service, the approximately 30 people in attendance went into the hallway where Johnson’s mother, Sherry Johnson, revealed a plaque with her son’s photo on it. Sherry, who struggled to contain her emotions during December’s murder trial and the recent sentencing, smiled as she looked at the photo.
“We all have really good memories of Cody and there is no need to cry because Cody would have never wanted that,” said Levi Blasdel, another of Johnson’s friends. “It’s been a hard year for all of us, but Cody would have wanted us to move forward.”
RELATED: A Murder In Glacier Park
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.