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John Johnson

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SHAFTSBURY -- John Johnson, 88, a resident of Murphy Hill Road, died Thursday, July 3, 2003 at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington following a brief illness.

Mr. Johnson was born on June 24, 1915 in New York City. He was the son of Otto and Ida (Loo) Johnson. In 1949 he married the former Betty Jenks of Rutherford, N.J. and they relocated to Shaftsbury.

Together they started John Johnson Books, a mail-order natural history book business run out of their home. A modest man and a modest start that eventually grew into an internationally known source of scholarly material particularly for the working naturalist. Through his life-long interest in this field, John personally knew many scientists considered legends today. John was always a person with time to listen, and had a remarkable memory. He became a bridge of knowledge between these early luminaries and succeeding generations of field biologists. As a bookman, his generosity was renowned. John was not a “bookish man,” working hard well defined him.

During the early years, he worked at the former Polygraphic and with John Moore’s Construction for many summers. Always a craftsman, he built his own home and did his own bookbinding. A superb athlete in his youth, John found a physical outlet in the family farm where he remained a strong and tireless cornerstone of the haying operation through his 80th year. A plain man with simple tastes, he took pleasure in walks in the woods, the cry of the seagull, beautiful sunsets, and plentiful ordinary food prepared and consumed at home. He will be remembered for his extraordinary kindness, his pride in a hard job well done, and the twinkle in his Swedish blue eyes. He is survived by his wife Betty of 54 years, and two daughters Laurie Johnson and Debbie Johnson and her husband Donald Moffitt all of Shaftsbury, nieces and a nephew. He was predeceased by two sisters Mildred Tilger and Agnes Johnson.

A service to remember John Johnson will be held at the family farm - Saga-Morgans Farm on Murphy Hill Road on Tuesday, July 8 at noon, with the Rev. Deborah Estey, pastor of the Shaftsbury Methodist Church, officiating. The service will be informal, casual attire is suggested. Following the service the family will receive friends throughout the remainder of the day at their home, all are invited to attend. To attend the service take Route 7A, turn onto West Mountain Road (across from the cemetery) continue straight through the intersection, the farm is on the right (about 3 miles from 7A).

Memorial gifts may be made to the Bennington Area Home Health Agency in care of the Hanson-Walbridge Funeral Home, P.O. Box 957, Bennington, VT 05201.
Published in Bennington Banner from July 4 to July 7, 2003
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