JOHNSON, WILLIAM OFFUTT, 72, of Oakland, MD and Missouri City, TX passed away Tuesday July 30, 2013 at Ruby Memorial Hospital. Born March 1, 1941, in Cumberland, MD he was the son of the late William Howard and Helen Offutt Johnson and the grandson of the late William Rennix and Mary Offutt of Oakland. He was also preceded in death by his brother, Humbird Lynn Johnson. He lived in Anne Arundel County for 35 years. He was a 1959 graduate of Allegany High School. He attended Potomac State College, Keyser, West Virginia, and graduated from the University of Maryland in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Park Administration. He served in the Army
National Guard, Air Defense Command on two Nike Hercules guided missile sites in the Baltimore/Washington area. He worked summers during high school and college in Maryland State parks including New Germany, Swallow Falls, Herrington Manor and Sandy Point. For two and one/half years he held a seasonal ranger position at Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. In l965 he started with the Maryland Department of Forests and Parks in the Grants-in-Aid Section of the Planning Division writing hundreds of Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants for both state and local projects in the 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City. Mr. Johnson worked closely with Historic Annapolis, Inc., to gain (LWCF) grants for both the Governor Paca House and the Paca Garden restoration. He also wrote numerous federal grant requests to help restore Patapsco Valley State Park after it was destroyed by tropical storm Agnes in 1972. July 1969 was the time when great "space" events occurred. Apollo 11s Neil Armstrong placed his left foot on the surface of the moon the same month that Program Open Space (POS) formally entered into the Laws of Maryland. Mr. Johnson had the task of writing a Grants-in-Aid Manual that would dove tail "POS" with the Federal regulations of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He recalled, "It was a task almost as difficult as going to the moon"! Following the 1969 creation of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Mr. Johnson held several positions within DNR's Capital Programs Administration including Chief of Grants, Chief of Staff of Capital Programs, and Assistant Director of Program Open Space (POS). For 23 years he worked on many aspects of POS administration and educational outreach efforts directed at open space preservation. It was during this time that the newly developed Tawes State Office Building opposite the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis was in need of completing its "Garden of Maryland in Miniature" located between the Natural Resources buildings and the Courts of Appeal. Mr. Johnson formed an interdepartmental committee to work with the District II of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland to create what became the Helen Avalyn Tawes Garden, a noted Annapolis landmark While serving as Assistant Director of Program Open Space, Mr. Johnson worked statewide to promote the continued funding of the Program that is recognized nationally as one of the nation's premier open space preservation programs. During the mid-1980's, he was involved with Maryland's efforts to contribute to President Reagan's Commission on "Americans Outdoors" and served as the Executive Producer of the documentary film, "People for Parks" that was inspired by the Presidential Commission's report. In 1992 Mr. Johnson transferred to the State Forest and Park Service to fulfill a long-time career desire to work in state park operations as a Naturalist. He worked a year at the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary in Southern Maryland and then transferred to Patapsco Valley State Park west of Baltimore where he was the Park Naturalist for seven years. Mr. Johnson spent five years restoring a 150-year-old stone house formerly, part of the Avalon Iron and Nail Works as Patapsco Valley State Park's first full-time Visitor Center. The project was basically an unfunded project. So, Mr. Johnson, working along with the Park Manager organized a not-for-profit "Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park, LTD.," and raised funds and donated services for the renovation work on the Visitor Center and funded the new exhibits. Throughout his career, Mr. Johnson has served on numerous committees of the Maryland Recreation and Park Association and is a past Chairman of the Park and Resource Conservation Branch. For five years he served as Treasurer of the Park and Resource Conservation Foundation, Inc. that awards scholarships to students majoring in natural resources and park management studies. Mr. Johnson also did historic reenacting as part of a special unit of the State Forests and Park Service known as "Maryland Rangers Three Centuries of Service." Mr. Johnson portrayed the 1930 Forest Warden from the Civilian Conservation Corps days of the Great Depression. He retired with 35 years of faithful state service on March 1, 2001. He always claimed, "It was not a job, but a way of life." He was a volunteer with the Garrett Mentors Program, Garrett County Historical Society, Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, Park and Resource Conservation Foundation (PARC), and Foundation for Maryland Conservation History. At the time of his death he was working on the Bicenntinial of the Casselman River Bridge. He was named 1986 "Tree Hugger" of the Year; he was awarded a Presidential Citation for his dedicated personal commitment to the leisure services profession in MD in 1988; he was inducted into the order of Lord Baltimore as a Conservation Cavalier by the Department of Natural Resources in 2001; and he received the Edmund Prince Ranger Award by the Maryland Park service in 2007. Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife Joan of 47 years, daughter Jennifer Martin and husband Larry and two Grandchildren, Joshua William Martin and Bethany Grace Martin all of League City, Texas. Friends will be received on today, Friday, August 2, 2013 from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 PM at the Burdock-Fredlock Funeral Home, P.A., 21 N 2nd St., Oakland, where a funeral service will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, August 3, 2013. Interment will follow in the Oakland Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Foundation for Maryland Conservation History, Inc., 608 North First Street, Cumberland, Maryland 21502.