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CLIFFORD A. "PAPA CHIEF" JOHNSON

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Clifford A. "Papa Chief" Johnson a resident of Warrenville since 1961 Clifford A. "Papa Chief" Johnson, 84, formerly of Naperville Township, died Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, at Central DuPage Hospital, Winfield, IL. He was born March 5, 1928, on the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL, and lived there until his marriage to Fay in 1950. He was the beloved husband of Fay (nee Johnson) Johnson, whom he married Dec. 23, 1950; loving father of Debra Lea (Keith) Swinden of Warrenville, Christopher Allen (Pauline) Johnson of Fort Collins, CO, Daniel Clifford (Debbie) Johnson of Elburn, IL and Andrew Otto (Monica) Johnson of Warrenville, IL; adored grandfather of Erin Fay (Jimmi) Lotterer, Joshua Daniel (Tammy) Johnson and Samuel Allen (Kathryn) Johnson, Sarah Christine Johnson and Scott Anthony Johnson, Kyle Daniel and Tyler Allen Johnson, Alex Spenser and Anna Christine Johnson, and David Thomas and Katherine Elizabeth Swinden; cherished great-grandfather of Kaitlin Fay Niekelski (parents, Phil and Judy Niekelski), Lauren Elizabeth Petersen and Abigail Elaine Lotterer; devoted son of the late Otto and Dora Johnson; dear brother of Juanita (the late Douglas) Rose and the late Selma (the late Robert) Slepicka; fond uncle of many; and brother-in-law of Clifford (the late Marjorie) Johnson Jr. Cliff joined the Army Air Corps in 1946 and served with distinction in the Air and Airwaves Communications Service, until his honorable discharge in 1949, at which time the Army Air Corps had been remade into the U.S. Air Force. After his military discharge, he worked in the electronics field and started his own business, Warrenville Radio & T.V. in 1958. While he sold a number of brands over the years, Zenith Corp. was the leader. Cliff joined the Warrenville Fire Protection District ranks in 1962 as a volunteer paid-on-call firefighter. He was selected to lead the department as its chief in 1971. The department was an all-volunteer force until he retired from business in 1986 to become the first full-time employee. He remained chief of the department until his retirement in 1994. During his tenure as chief, he was active in numerous state associations and was most proud of his efforts to ensure that new school construction in Illinois included sprinkler protection. Cliff was a life member of the Warrenville VFW where he served in many positions of leadership over the years. Cliff, and his wife, Fay, have been members of Trinity Lutheran Church since 1986. He has also served the congregation as a member of its Church Council and in other lay positions ranging from Sunday school teacher to computer operator. He grew up in the Congregational Church in Lisle, IL and he and Fay raised their four children in the Lutheran tradition. Faith, family and community are at the foundation of his character. Cliff was a founding member of the Kiwanis Club Warrenville Chapter where he helped bring the Kiwanis motto, "We Build" to life, participating in numerous park projects, as well as fundraisers for youth scholarships. He has served as its president and vice president. Clifford Johnson Elementary School opened in 1990, and was named in Cliff's honor, he has read too many a classroom and three of his grandchildren/great-grandchildren were educated there. Memorial visitation will be Thursday, Oct. 4, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 3S460 Curtis Ave., Warrenville, IL 60555. Memorial services will follow Thursday, at 11 a.m. at the church, with Rev. Wende West officiating. A luncheon reception will follow at the Warrenville Fire Department, 3S446 Batavia Road, Warrenville. Interment will be private. Donations in memory of Cliff may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church, 3S460 Curtis Ave., Warrenville, IL 60555, 630-393-9104 or The Midwest Shelter For Homeless Veterans, 119 N. West St., Wheaton, IL 60187, 630-871- 8387. Arrangements were made by Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Naperville, IL. For information, 630-355-0213, www.friedrich-jones.com.
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Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on Oct. 2, 2012
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