Dick W. Johnson
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 1, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.
Johnson, 80, a Cloverdale resident for 43 years, died Feb. 21 in a Healdsburg hospital. The cause was pulmonary fibrosis.
His family said he was a man of deep Christian faith who greatly enjoyed teaching children.
“He loved God and God’s been in the middle of our marriage all the way,” said his wife, Louise Johnson.
A native of Decatur, Ind., Johnson served four years in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. For much of that time he was stationed in Hawaii, where he met his future wife. The couple married in 1952.
After the war, Johnson graduated in 1957 from Westmont College with a degree in education. He began teaching school in Ventura and took night courses to receive a masters degree in school administration and school law from San Fernando Valley State College, now CSU Northridge.
He later taught in Lee Vining and for three years served as superintendent of a school district in Mammoth Lakes. After that, he was ready to switch back to the classroom.
“He did not like administration as much as he liked teaching children,” said Louise Johnson.
After completing a reading specialist credential from the University of Nevada, Reno, Johnson and his family moved to Cloverdale in 1969. He began working as a reading specialist for the town’s elementary school children.
He retired in 1994 as an administrator for special education.
At the next election, he ran for school board. He won in a landslide, his wife recalled, and a San Francisco newspaper reported that he had received a higher percentage of the possible vote than any other candidate in the Bay Area.
He remained on the school board until last year.
Johnson was a deacon for 28 years at First Baptist Church. He served on the boards of CARE Foundation, which raises funds for Cloverdale schools, and the Cloverdale Senior Center. He also tutored students and volunteered for the town’s Food Pantry.
Johnson and his wife traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Europe, Russia and Alaska.
Along with his wife, survivors include four children, Eric Johnson of Diamond Springs, Jonell Jel’enedre of Santa Cruz, Craig Johnson of Mesa, Ariz., and Clint Johnson of Oakland; a sister, Mary Ellen Spicher of Milford, Ind.; eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. March 9 at the East Gym of Cloverdale High School.
— Robert Digitale