Edwin T. Johnson

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Edwin T. Johnson, Founder and CEO of The Johnson Companies, an employee benefits consulting firm known for designing and establishing the first 401(k) savings plan, died in his home in Newtown, PA on August 23, 2012. He was 82.

He died of prostate cancer, which he battled for 22 years.

He is survived by his wife of sixty years, Cynthia S. Johnson, his children, E. Thomas Johnson, Jr. and his wife Joyce M. Sullivan of Hingham, MA, Rebecca J. Kerchner and her husband Kevin H. Kerchner of Newtown, PA, his grandchildren, Mark Johnson, Sarah Johnson and Anna Kerchner, and his step-grandchildren, Katherine Kerchner, Sarah Kerchner and Abby Gannon. He is also survived by his brother, David R. Johnson of Newtown, his sister-in-law, MaryAnn S. Craver, of Gettysburg, PA, and his nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews.

He was a native of Bucks County, PA, growing up on family farms and attending Fallsington High School. He graduated from Gettysburg College in 1951 and began a career in the life insurance and employee benefits industry. In addition to being innovators in the retirement field, The Johnson Companies were early developers of managed care and self-insurance group health programs. The companies had over 400 employees at the time it was sold in 1990. Mr. Johnson was also one of the founders of Johnson Kendall & Johnson, Inc., which began in 1959 and continues today to provide insurance brokerage and risk management services.

Mr. Johnson was active in many industry groups including serving as the first President of the Top of the Table, an elite group of the Million Dollar Round Table, and in 1987 was President of the Association of Advanced Life Underwriters, a national organization of life insurance and benefit professionals.

Mr. Johnson has been active supporters of educational, religious, civic and scientific organizations. He joined the Gettysburg College Board of Trustees in 1977 and subsequently served as chair of the Board. In 2010 he was elected an honorary life trustee. He was a board member of the Lincoln Prize of the Gettysburg College, which awards annual prizes to authors of new books about the Civil War era.

He was ordained as an Elder of the Newtown Presbyterian Church and as a Stephen Minister, and most recently was a leader of a career networking group helping unemployed individuals from the church and community in their preparation and search for employment. He served the Presbytery of Philadelphia and served as Trustee of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Foundation of Louisville, KY.

Mr. Johnson was active in the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s, and in 1964 was a founding member of the Newtown Improvement Association. The efforts of this group and its volunteers resulted in decent housing and improved racial relations. In 2005, he helped establish the Friends of St. Mark to support St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church of Newtown in its mission for social change and equality in the community.

His civic work continued in Newtown in the late 60s with the start of St. Mary Hospital. He was a member of the Founders Council, formed in 1967, to promote the cause of building the hospital. He served as the first lay chairman of St. Mary Hospital, and most recently, he has been a member of the St Mary Foundation planned giving council.

He served on the Board of Governing Trustees of The Jackson Laboratory of Bar Harbor, ME, from 1996 to 2006. The Laboratory recently honored the Johnsons with the Philanthropy Award at its 2010 Annual National Council dinner.

Funeral services to be held at Newtown Presbyterian Church, 25 N Chancellor St., Newtown, PA 18940 on Friday, September 7, 2012 at 1:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his memory to The Jackson Laboratory. "As a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, The Jackson Laboratory is an essential part of the genetics revolution that is transforming cancer research and treatment."
The Jackson Laboratory, Attention Penny Fox, P.O. Box 254, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, www.jax.org
To share your fondest memory of Edwin, please visit www.lifecelebration.com
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Published in Advance of Bucks County on Sept. 1, 2012
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