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Clarence Johnson


1926 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Clarence Johnson Obituary
icon Clarence Edward Johnson (Red) passed away peacefully, in Chicago, on Tuesday evening, January 14, 2014 after a long, full, and accomplished life. He was born on September 5, 1926, the son of Walter and Mabel Johnson. He is survived by Shirley (nee Meltzer), his loving wife of 67 years, and four children; David J. Johnson (Kathy) of Naperville, Illinois, Dana Johnson Petri (Johan) of Stockholm, Sweden, William A. Johnson (Julie) of Naperville, Illinois, and Robert Franklin Johnson (Song) of Chicago. He is also survived by 7 grandchildren ( Michael, Clare, Jennifer, Billy, Caitlin, Rui, and Mei) and 5 great grandchildren. Clarence, the youngest of three brothers, was raised on the northwest side of Chicago and attended Taft High School. He was a class leader, an athlete, and, many years later, was inducted into the Taft Hall of Fame. He met Shirley at Taft and "Lefty" and "Flash", as they were called, became high school sweethearts. Upon graduation Lefty walked away from a football scholarship at the University of Washington to join the Navy. He served in the Pacific as a gunner's mate on an LST until the end of World War II. He returned to Chicago, married Shirley, and used the GI Bill to enter Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. Red, as he was now nicknamed, cherished his years at Millikin and served the University for many years after. He was an Alumni of the Year, a University Trustee, and was elected to Millikin's Athletic Hall of Fame. Soon after receiving his degree, Red joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a special agent working in Washington D.C., Knoxville, and Pittsburgh. He worked many interesting cases and was, in fact, shot in the line of duty; accidentally and ironically by the firearms instructor. Wanting to put down roots, Red and Shirley returned to Decatur where, in 1953, he became the Assistant Personnel Director at Borg Warner Corporation's Marvel-Schebler plant. During his years in Decatur, Red was involved in many civic organizations. He became an Elder at 1st Presbyterian Church, served on the Civil Service Commission, and was a member of a three man task force that spent three years working to end segregated housing in the city. 34 years after starting at the Decatur plant and after many stops along the way, including a return to Chicago, Red retired as President and CEO of Borg Warner. During and after his career with Borg Warner, Red was a Director at the Northern Trust Corporation, the First National Bank of Decatur, the Echlin Corporation, and Cloyes Gear. He was a patron of the Chicago Symphony and the Phoenix Symphony. He was a Trustee at the Field Museum and the 4th Presbyterian Church in Chicago and the Foothills Foundation in Carefree, Arizona. He was a faithful Chicago sports fan and enjoyed golf, especially in Carefree and Pinetop, Arizona. As with so many of his generation, Red lived by example while making a difference in the lives of others. To those who knew him, he was a man of great character; an admired man. He was a loving and devoted husband and father; a loyal and generous friend. To his family, he was "bigger than life" and words will never express how much he will be missed. The Johnson family is grateful for all the condolences, kind words, and memories shared; as well as the support received from the wonderful staff at The Clare, in Chicago. A memorial is pending. Arrangements by Central Chapel, Lane-Moynihan Directors, Downtown Chicago. To express your thoughts or memories in the online guest book, visit www.chapelc.com or www.facebook.com/centralchapel. For information call 312-944-6060.
Published in Chicago Tribune from Jan. 19 to Jan. 26, 2014
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