Richard Johnson would probably laugh at this and make some dry, witty, yet gentle joke about it, but he was one of my heroes at Loyola University. I first met him in the late 70s when he was working with my mom in the Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Office developing what would become the university's common curriculum for at least a good couple of decades. He did a brilliant job on that, but I knew him best as the teacher who introduced me to the "old" British authors (anything before the 20th c.) and who taught me the Romantic poets and most especially William Blake. He was very good at explicating poetry but even better about telling stories from his life that made the poetry live. He was also my unofficial advisor (not the professor I was assigned to but the one I would always go to for questions about courses and just to talk to, about almost anything). He had an endearing sense of humor and an offbeat, whimsical, slightly mischievous approach to life I greatly admired. I remember in particular one evening when he invited me and several first-semester freshmen English majors up to his office to do a timeline of British authors from Beowulf through the 19th c. just because he thought we were good students and he wanted to give us some extra attention. I also remember a crawfish boil he had at his house for English majors along with numerous Bacchus parties, and he was the professor who started Loyola's chapter of the national English honors society, Sigma Tau Delta. He held the first-ever induction ceremony on a tennis court at a house nearby the university, which everyone thought was brilliant. I marveled at how someone could be so good with words as well as at painting. I have been fortunate to see a few of his paintings and have been amazed at his mimetic abilities. Most of all, I can say he was a role model to me as someone who would enter the academic profession of English at the university level--a gifted and generous teacher, a creative spirit, a devoted husband and father, a consummate professional even when his department went through internal conflict, a kind soul. I have kept him in my heart when I have taught the poetry he taught me, and I will miss him. May he be now with Blake in the portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.
I'm so thankful that we will always have the beautiful painting he did of ashley and I that hangs in our moms house. Dick was a great person and I'm glad to have known him my entire life. Love you Patrice, Daniel, and Michael. See you all soon
I enjoyed Dr. Johnson's Romanticism course at Loyola and will never forget his zest and vigor for the subject matter. But I will never forget William Blake's "If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." I pray that is where your spirit remains Dr. Johnson--in the realm of infinity. Keeping you and your family in my prayers.
"Dick was always a very pleasant and peaceful colleague. I shall remember him and his family in my prayers."
Herb Sayas (New Orleans)
On behalf of the staff at the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation we offer our deepest condolences to the Johnson family. While this is a difficult time, please know that as a foundation we can offer support and information to your family as you move forward. We sincerely hope you will join the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation in the fight to permanently eliminate this disease.