Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nils Gordon Johnson 1925-2013

Radioman, Teacher, Husband, Father, Friend
Nils Gordon Johnson, a respected high school chemistry teacher and much decorated World War II navy veteran died suddenly Sunday, June 9. He was 87.

Johnson was a radioman in the Pacific Theater aboard the Attack Transport ship, USS Doyen, which took part in the harrowing amphibious attacks on Saipan, Guam, Leyte, Luzon, the Philippines, and Solomon Islands. For this he was awarded the American Theater Medal, the Victory Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Theater Medal and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. He was one of only 3 surviving veterans of the USS Doyen before his passing.

Johnson taught public school in Hartford for 41 years, teaching chemistry and electronics for 26 yrs at Hartford Public High, after 15 yrs teaching elementary school. He also served as president of the Hartford area Home School Association..

Nils Gordon Johnson was born in 1925 in Hartford, the son of a Swedish immigrant father Nils Bror Johnson (Brogholm, Sweden) and Louise Laura Vinal, and graduated from Hall High, West Hartford, in 1943.

He earned his BA in 1950 from the University of CT (where he sang in a barbershop quartet), a BS from Southern CT Teachers College, and a MALS from Wesleyan University in 1958. In summers National Science Foundation grants allowed him to take additional chemistry courses at Syracuse, Brown, Univ of Wisconsin and other schools.

It was at UConn that he met Adele Ewanowski, a Middletown native whom he married in 1952. He moved to Middletown and helped construct the family home on Laurel Grove Road at the edge of the beautiful Wadsworth State Park, where the family enjoys long walks in the woods. The Johnsons spent summers camping and attending chemistry teaching conventions. Nils and Adele were to celebrate their 61th anniversary June 28.

Known to almost every one as “Johnson,” Mr. Johnson was active in his parish, St Mary of Czestochowa, participating in the church renovation on the organ committee. As part of the Ham Radio Relay System, he sent civilian radio messages in times of weather emergencies.

He spent retirement traveling, reading, helping his children build their homes, laughing with his grandchildren, and dancing at every possible opportunity. After a trip to show his wife his Pacific tour of duty, he began studying Japanese at Central CT State College. Together they maintained a rigorous social calendar, participating in many organizations, including the New England Association of Chemistry Teachers, AFT-CIO, Hartford Federation of Teachers (Retired), Mx Country Retired Teachers, Catholic War Vets, Polish League of Am. Vets, Manchester Army Navy Club, Friends of Long Hill, Kosziuszko Club (Rockfall) and AARP.

Johnson is survived by three sisters: Joyce D’Angelo of W. Yarmouth, MA, Naomi Wolf Otulak, of Farmington and Marilyn Cone of Moodus; three sons Paul Johnson, of South Dennis, MA, Peter Johnson, of Newport, RI, daughter Catherine Johnson, of our city, and Michael Johnson of New York City; granddaughters Alexis Johnson Zou and Erica Johnson; grandsons Neil Johnson and Marc Johnson; daughters-in-law Sherry Dong Johnson and Violeta Lam Johnson; and dear friend, Lynne Torrey.

THE FUNERAL will be held at 11 am St. Mary of Czestochowa Church, So. Main Street, Sat. June 15. CALLING HOURS will be held Fri 6-8 pm Biega’s Silver St and Sat 10-11 am at the church. Burial with military honors: Calvary Cemetery, Bow Lane.

In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Commemorative Tree Program may be made to the Long Hill Restoration Fund (Wadsworth Mansion) or St. Mary School (soon to be Blessed John Paul II) Middletown.

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