James Theodore Johnson Jr. died peacefully at the age of 90 on Wednesday, Jan. 7, and while the Weekly does not routinely run obituaries of the lesser-known, we are making an exception in time for the World War II-er's memorial service Friday in Newport Beach.
Johnson was born in Kemmerer, Wyoming, on Oct. 1, 1924, according to his obituary in the Orange County Register.
As a young man, he was championship basketball player. He then served as a Lieutenant First Class in the Air Force as a Navigator during World War II (Air Force B24's 63rd Bomber Squadron 43rd Bomb Group). He earned his Ph.D. in Education at Columbia University and was a visiting teaching scholar at Pepperdine University, Stanford University, Claremont Graduate School, and the University of Michigan. He then served as the Superintendent of Bonita Unified School District from 1970 until his retirement in 1987. During his retirement, he was an avid charity golfer, an active grandparent to James, Kate and Kelly, and traveled around the world with his wife Nora. Dr. Johnson was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, friend, Christian and patriot.
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Johnson is survived by his wife, Nora Jorgensen-Johnson; three grandchildren: James Lee Bell, Kate Ryan Kuhlman Lokshin and Kelly Jordan Kuhlman; and one great-granddaughter, Phoebe June Bell. He had one daughter, Cynthia Joan Johnson, who lost her battle to cancer in 2003.
Some of the friends Johnson leaves behind fear he does not have enough surviving friends and family "to help send him off in a manner befitting a warrior of the Greatest Generation," so the public is invited to attend his funeral, "but most especially fellow veterans and patriots."
Services begin at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 600 Saint Andrew's Road, Newport Beach. A reception follows.