VERNON >> Col (Ret) J. Thomas Johnson, of Vernon-Tom, Dad, Grampa-passed peacefully from this life on Sunday morning, Sept. 1, 2013, as he wished: in the familiar surroundings of his home, with those he loved most.
Tom was born In Middletown on March 6, 1942, to John William and Mary V. (Fitzgibbons) Johnson. He completed his elementary education at the Staddle Hill and West Side (now Spencer) Schools, and graduated from Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in 1960. In 1964 he received his bachelor's degree cum laude from St. Michael's College in Winooski, VT, and, in 1967, his J. D. from UConn Law School.
In 1968, Tom was commissioned into the United States Air Force
and began his long association with the military. While on active duty, he served as USAF Senior Judge Advocate from 1968-1972. After completing his active duty, he returned home and joined the Connecticut Air National Guard, serving from 1972 to 1998. During those years, Tom served as Staff Judge Advocate to the Commander, 103 Fighter Wing; to the Commander, CTANG; and ANG Assistant to the Staff Judge Advocate, Air Combat Command, Langley AFB, VA. His awards and decorations include two Air Force Commendation Medals, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal and the Legion of Merit. On his retirement from the CTANG, Tom was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, CTANG. He was well known across the AF JAG community as a master of his craft. His dedication, intelligence and mentorship will be missed.
In civilian life, Tom served as Senior Counsel for the Connecticut Bank & Trust, and as Deputy General Counsel for Northeast Savings. He developed a private practice specializing in banking law and negotiable instrument litigation in Vernon, CT. Toward the end of his career, he served as Counsel for Tolland Bank, and then Counsel for Rockville Bank, retiring in 2011.
As his family saw in his final weeks, Tom's friendships were life long, as different visitors from the many decades of his life came every day to see him. They laughed, they recollected his sincere and active love of music, and retold stories of him fondly.
Those who knew him as a devoted friend, remember Tom as a man inclined to kindnesses, as one who kept confidences and contact in high regard. An ethical and professional man with respect for the Law and for engaging in debate on philosophy and other varied topics, Tom enjoyed a wonderfully dry sense of humor and fondness for wordplay. He loved to travel and enjoy fine wines and cuisine, especially good bacon.
Tom was a serious and dedicated musician, composer and arranger in his spare time, and shared his love of jazz with anyone who would listen. He played bass for a number of years with the jazz combo Top Brass in the Central Connecticut area. Throughout much of his life, Tom was involved with other kinds of music, both secular and religious, and participated in high school and college glee clubs, church choirs and local organizations including the Vernon Chorale.
Tom was a man of deep faith and in 1991 became a devoted supporter of the Tridentine Mass Apostolate of the Diocese of Norwich. He followed the Apostolate from North Grosvenordale to Putnam and then to Moodus, where, for many years, he served as acolyte.
Tom leaves his son, Brian W. Johnson of Windsor, his daughter, Kelly M. Robinson and son-in-law Timothy Robinson of East Longmeadow, MA; his grandchildren Rachel and Ryan Robinson, and his sister, Judith Ellen Johnson of Cromwell. He also leaves his beloved "most significant other," Pamela Stockdale Villanova. In addition, he is survived by Diane Johnson of Vernon, his former spouse.
Besides his parents, Tom was predeceased by his brother, William Erik (Bud) Johnson.
Burial with full military honors will take place at 10:30 A.M. on Tuesday, Sept. 10th in Swedish Cemetery in Portland. In keeping with his devotion to the Tridentine rite, a Requiem Mass will be celebrated at 12:30 P.M. at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme, with Tom's pastor and very dear friend, Rev. Gregoire J. Fluet as celebrant.
The family will gather to receive friends at the Biega Funeral Home, 3 Silver Street, Middletown, on Sunday, Sept. 8th from 5 to 7 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to the Firework Team for the 2013 Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk or a cancer research organization of the donor's choice.