Obituary of Donald Arthur Johnson
Donald Arthur Johnson
(11/15/1945 – 10/16/2023)
Don passed away peacefully at home surrounded by loving family on October 16th, 2023. He was born on November 15, 1945 in Spokane, Washington to Carl “Raymond” Johnson and Bertha Johnson. He spent his childhood on Spokane’s South Hill. He attended and graduated from Jefferson Elementary, Sacajawea Middle School, and Lewis & Clark High School (Class of 1964). He and his older brother, Jerry Johnson, grew up competing in many sports (predominantly golf, basketball, baseball, and table tennis). The whole family had a particular affinity for golf, and they played countless rounds together at Manito Country Club, where they were long time members. Some of his memorable childhood athletic accomplishments were City of Spokane table tennis champion, point guard of the Lewis & Clark basketball team, and various golf championships across the city, state, and nation.
Upon graduation from high school, Don attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. He graduated in 1968. He was the first member of his family to attend college. In addition to being a cadet, he was a member and captain of the golf team. His golf highlights at West Point included Champion at the Eastern Intercollegiate Golf Association Championship (1966), NCAA National Tournament Qualifier (1966 & 1967), and NCAA All America Honorable Mention (1966).
Don was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army in 1968. He served 20 years as a decorated Army Officer earning the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Army Service Ribbon. His Army career included: a combat tour of duty in Vietnam, earning his master’s degree from Purdue University, and other assignments in Seattle, WA, El Paso, TX, West Point, NY, Germany, and Washington D.C. His final assignment was to lead the ROTC department at Washington State University in Pullman, WA as a lieutenant colonel, completed in 1988.
Don married Louanne (Atkinson) Johnson in 1971 in Fort Collins, CO. Don met Louanne on a blind date at West Point. He described meeting her as love at first sight, having been enamored by her smile. The couple had two children, Carl Johnson and Heidi Johnson. The nomadic Army family formed a close bond by traversing the world for Don’s military assignments.
Don’s retirement began in Pullman, WA. He divided his time between family, playing golf, and selling real estate. In 1996, Don and Louanne moved to Louanne’s hometown of Fort Collins, CO. There he spent his time playing golf, teaching GED math, and spending more time with his extended family. He found immense pleasure in watching his son and daughter begin their own families. Don welcomed his daughter-in-law, Tanya Johnson into the family in 2002 and his son-in-law, Rick Hobbs in 2006, followed by three grandchildren: Olivia Johnson, Timmy Johnson, and Dori Hobbs. A final move to Colorado Springs, CO occurred in 2019 to be closer to his daughter’s family.
Don succumbed to complications from Multiple Myeloma presumed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange during his tour in Vietnam. He survived with Multiple Myeloma for more than 12 years, far exceeding the average life expectancy at the time of his diagnosis. Don received an allogeneic stem cell transplant in 2013 from Tanja Wohlfeil. She became family after her selfless sacrifice extending Don’s life.
Don will be remembered by those who knew and loved him by his exemplary dedication to a life of service to nation, family, neighbors and friends. Don lived a life of decency, honor, humility and integrity. He taught those around him “what right looks like” through example as he lived by the motto “Troops eat first.” For those wishing to continue his legacy of service to others, his family requests donations in his honor be made to Tee it Up for the Troops, Pete Gross House via Fred Hutch Center or International Myeloma Foundation.
Don’s family is finalizing plans for a Celebration of Life in Spokane, WA sometime in Spring or Summer of 2024.