Wilbur Edwin Johnson, beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend to many, passed into eternal rest Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011, in Houston. Born Aug. 22, 1914, in Bartlesville, Okla., he was 97.|
Mr. Johnson was the former Grand Master of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Texas and a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, Houston Scottish Rite Bodies, since 1985. He held many Masonic positions of leadership throughout his life.
He had lived in the Houston area for nearly 50 years. At the time of his death, he and his wife, Rosemary Johnson, resided in Katy, Texas. He died of complications from heart failure, after about two months of hospitalization and rehabilitation.
Mr. Johnson, a friendly and outgoing man with a tremendous memory, loved talking with people, and he kept in touch with many friends he had met decades ago as well as new acquaintances. He had a breadth of interests from his church to railroads to sports. In sports, he was a lifelong fan of baseball's Giants, first in New York and later in San Francisco. He was very pleased to watch the deciding games of the most recent World Series with his son, David, who was visiting from England.
Mr. Johnson was an accountant at Exxon Petroleum, retiring in 1976 after 38 years. He was a graduate of Bartlesville, Okla. High School (1932) and of Northwestern University (1938), where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He also followed Northwestern's football team and traveled to see it in bowl games, including twice to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
In World War II, Mr. Johnson served as a weather observer in the19th Weather Squadron of the U.S. Army, 1942-45, in Nigeria, Iran, Libya and Egypt.
Among his many Masonic honors and posts, he was a Past Presiding Officer of the Temperance Lodge No. 16 in Vandalia, Ill., and the J.W. Chandler Daylight Lodge No. 1452, Houston. He was a member of the Vandalia Chapter No. 136 R.A.M., Vandalia, Ill.; Washington Chapter No. 2 R.A.M, Houston; Centralia Council No. 28 R.&S.M., Centralia, Ill; Houston Council No. 1 R.&S.M.; Ruthven Commandery No.2, Knights Templar.
Also, he was Secretary/Recorder of the Washington Chapter and Houston Council, 1980-84 and 1986-2001. He was Past Presiding Officer of the Gulf Coast York Rite College No. 106; Recorder of the Red Cross of Constantine starting in 1992. He was a member of the Texas Priory No. 23 Knights of the York Cross of Honour.
Mr. Johnson served as President of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. He was Treasurer of the organization for 15 years. His articles were published in various railroad magazines.
Mr. Johnson's remarkable life took him many places. He resided in Bartlesville and Tulsa, Okla; Jackson, Miss.; Bismarck, N.D.; and Vandalia, Ill.; as well as Houston, Sugar Land and Katy in Texas.
He traveled widely with his wife Rosemary, visiting Australia, New Zealand, England, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Fiji, the Baltic nations, Russia, Scandinavia and the Caribbean.
Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife Rosemary Johnson; daughter Susan Galvin and husband Paul of Houston; son David Johnson and wife Claire of London, England; son James Johnson; and grandchildren David Galvin of Houston, and Christina and Marilyn of London. Mr. Johnson was preceded in death by his former wife Marilyn M. Johnson, who died in 1991; son Thomas A. Johnson, who died in 1995; and his parents, Clyde E. Johnson and Laura Mae Dugan Johnson.
Visitation will be Monday, Nov. 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Waltrip Funeral Directors, 1415 Campbell Road, Houston 77055. A memorial service will be conducted Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m. in the Chapel at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, where he had long been a member. The church is at 11612 Memorial Drive, Houston 77024. He formerly was an Elder at the church, as well as at Vandalia (Ill.) Presbyterian Church.
Graveside services, including military and Masonic honors, will be Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 11:30 a.m. at Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive, Houston.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests contributions to charities of your choice.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Nov. 20, 2011