Don Johnson

BENSON - Don Johnson, 59, of Knoxville, Tenn., formerly of Benson, Ill., passed away on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, at his residence in Knoxville.

Don was born May 29, 1949, in Peoria, Ill., to Eilert and Alma Mennen Johnson.

Surviving are his mother, Alma Johnson of Benson; one brother, Larry (Pat) Johnson of Benson; one sister, Cynthia "Sam" Johnson of Pekin; one niece, Jill (Patrick) Durley of Roanoke; one nephew, Greg (Sky) Johnson of Santa Barbara, Calif; one great-niece; and two great-nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, Eilert Johnson.

Don graduated from Roanoke-Benson High School in 1967 and to this day is still the school's all-time leading scorer in basketball.

He continued his basketball career, playing four more years while attending the University of Tennessee. Johnson finished with 1,196 points after averaging 14.8 points in 81 career games. His 749 rebounds rank 10th on UT's career rebounding chart, and his rebounding average of 9.2 is sixth-highest in Volunteer history. Johnson was drafted in the NBA and ABA drafts following his senior season. The Baltimore Bullets drafted him in the fifth round in the NBA draft, and the Memphis Tams selected him in the 16th round in the ABA draft.

Johnson was very active in the Knoxville community following the completion of his playing career. He worked as a consultant in the Knoxville area and was a member of the Big Orange Tipoff Club. Johnson, who was nominated for Tennessee's All-Century Team, recently joined many of his former teammates at the Lettermen's Reunion on Feb. 13 to celebrate a century of Tennessee basketball.

Don enjoyed playing golf, but his true passion in life was spending time with his family and friends.

He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

He was a member of the St. Peter Lutheran Church in Benson, where funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 24. The Rev. William Hecht will officiate. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Knapp-Johnson-Harris Funeral Home in Roanoke and one hour before the services Tuesday at the church. Burial will be in the church cemetery. There will be a celebration of Don's life at a later date in Knoxville.

Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Peter Lutheran Church or the Apostolic Christian Home of Roanoke.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Published in Peoria Journal Star on Mar. 21, 2009