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Herbert Johnson

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Herbert William Johnson

1927 - 2013 NORTH ADAMS Herbert William Johnson, frequently known as "Coach," passed away Friday, May 3, surrounded by his children and grandchildren.

A lifelong resident of North Adams, he spent his career as an educator, coach, and mentor to generations of students.

Over the last two years, he resided at North Adams Commons where he was treated with love, respect and dignity by a compassionate, caregiving team.

He was born Aug. 25, 1927, to Albert J. Johnson and Sarah (Salmon) Johnson at 375 Houghton Street.

Herb served his country as a Private First Class in Army and was honorably discharged in 1947.

A 1945 graduate of Drury High School, Herb received a Bachelor of Science Degree with honors from Springfield College in 1952 and a Master's Degree in Education from North Adams State College (now MCLA) in 1964.

Herb began his career at Leland And Grey Seminary in Townshend, Vt., but soon returned to North Adams where he dedicated the next 32 years of his life to the students and athletes of the North Adams Public School system. His passion was instilling values, discipline and respect as he became an integral part of the Physical Education program in this community.

He taught Physical Education at Drury High School and Mark Hopkins school until his appointment as Athletic Director of North Adams Public School system in 1976. He was instrumental in the growth and development of girls' sports and the expansion of program development. He was involved in the planning and design of the present Drury High School and spent countless hours in the gymnasium and on the sports fields in a labor of love for the sports program of this community.

He was well respected for his hard work, dedication and organization and received a Distinguished Service Award from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. Over the years, he coached football, track, skiing, gymnastics and filled in as a coach for every other sport when needed. He thoroughly enjoyed his many years as a high school official for football, soccer, baseball and track and as a high school and college basketball official.

He received numerous awards over the years, including an Outstanding Service Award for 40 years of participation from the International Association of Approved Basketball Association Officials, District Athletic Director of the year in 1986 and 1990, and was inducted in the Hall of Fame for the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

In his later years, he found an ideal way to keep his connection with students at Drury High School and fulfill his yearning to be involved in the medical profession by becoming certified as an Emergency Medical Technician. He served on the North Adams Ambulance service team and could be found at multiple sporting events at Drury High School serving in that capacity.

His community was important to him and he volunteered as a long term member of the North Adams Recreation Commission, coached for Babe Ruth League and served on the Board of Directors for the North Adams Summer Basketball League and was a lifetime member of the Fraternal Order of the Elks. He served on many other regional and state boards and committees, including the Massachusetts Coaches Association, Intercounty Track League, Berkshire County Football Association, IAABO (basketball), Athletic Directors Association.

He was a member of the Hairpin Turners Square Dance Club and shared this knowledge with students in class, much to their chagrin. In winter, you could always find Coach at Dutch Hill ski area where he served on the ski patrol and was always easy to locate on the trail by his speed and characteristic style In the summer, he enjoyed golf at the North Adams Country Club and at many of the regional golf courses in the area with his many golfing buddies. Herb would also want us to tell you that he won the Presidents Cup in 1983 at North Adams Country Club and also achieved 2 hole-in-one.

Many Drury High School students remember "Coach" and credit him with impacting their lives in some manner. His life's work touched many and will long be remembered. His use of the "Marine Test" to demonstrate physical fitness, duck walks as punishment for girl watching and boxing in gym class as a way to mediate interpersonal difficulties are some of the highlights frequently recounted by students. Over the years, "Coach" was invited to many high school class reunions which he thoroughly enjoyed. It was not unusual for former students to come and see him including his first class of his career for their 50th reunion.

His wife of 56 years, Edith (Clark) Johnson, whom he married on June 27, 1953, predeceased him October, 2009.

Mr. Johnson leaves three proud daughters and a son and their families, Billie Lynn (Johnson) Allard, and her husband, Edward of Clarksburg, Bruce Johnson of Keene, N.H., Kimberly (Johnson) Soller of Portsmouth, N.H., and Karen (Johnson) Chase and her husband, Charles of Kittery, Maine. He also leaves nine grandchildren, Scott Allard, Kate (Allard) Manuel, Jennifer (Allard) Downey, Kyle Soller, Kurt Soller, Meredith Chase, Bryce Johnson, Konnar Johnson, Kade Johnson and six great-grandchildren with another arriving in June.

He was predeceased by his brother, Albert Johnson, who died on the same day 22 years ago and by his sister Ruth (Johnson) Young.

FUNERAL NOTICE: A celebration of his life will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at the First Congregational Church of North Adams. Burial with military honors will follow in the family plot in Southview Cemetery. Calling hours at the Flynn & Dagnoli-Montagna Home for Funerals, WEST CHAPELS, 521 West Main St. North Adams, will be Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in his name to the Herbert "Coach" Johnson Scholarship fund at Drury High School.To send a message, please visit www.flynndagnoli@albany.twcbc.com



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Published in The Berkshire Eagle from May 5 to May 6, 2013
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