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Fred Todd Johnson

1924 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Fred Todd Johnson Obituary
Fred Todd Johnson

AGE: 92 • Wilmington

Fred Todd Johnson was born on June 7, 1924 in Bloomington, Indiana, the fourth child of George A. and Edith T. Johnson. He was a graduate of Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware and Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

Mr. Johnson was a junior in pre-med at Indiana University when he entered the Army Air Corps in 1943. He became an aviator with the 477th Bomber Group, attaining the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. After a brief stint with the Bomber Group, he moved on to pilot training when World War II ended. He was the only commissioned black navigator from the State of Delaware to serve in WWII.

After the war, Mr. Johnson returned to Indiana University, where he competed on the university's track team. The highlight of his track career was running on Indiana's winning Shuttle Hurdle Championship of America relay team at the Penn Relays in 1947.

Mr. Johnson's first teaching job after graduation was at Prairie View A&M College in Texas, where he taught physical education and kinesiology. When William C. Jason High School opened in 1950 in Georgetown, Delaware, he became a member of the faculty, teaching physical education, chemistry and health education. He also coached track, basketball and football.

In 1959, after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, there was a national call for improved science education in the nation's junior high schools. Mr. Johnson's scientific and aviation background qualified him for state school certification in science. He became the first black teacher at Warner Junior High School in Wilmington, where he taught physical and earth sciences.

In 1968, Mr. Johnson was selected to represent Delaware public school teachers at the Bell Labs Teacher-Student Conference in Murray Hill, NJ. After briefly serving the Wilmington Public School District as an Assistant Principal, he returned to the classroom at Warner, also managing the operation of the school's planetarium and serving as chairman of the science department until his retirement in 1981.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Mr. Johnson coached track at Warner from 1960 to 1969. His teams won several city and county championships and one state championship. Many of his athletes went on to become high school and collegiate champions.

Mr. Johnson was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, the Indiana University Alumni Association and the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. In 2013, he was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the honor being bestowed by Delaware's congressional delegation. He was also included in the Tuskegee Airmen's section on the Wall of Honor at the National Air and Space Museum. Mr. Johnson was further recognized as an inductee in the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame in 2016.

Mr. Johnson was preceded in death by his siblings, Mary Yancey, Margaret Gardiner, and George L. Johnson, and his daughter, Cheryl A. Johnson. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Margo; their son, Todd E. Johnson of New York, NY; and his son by a previous marriage, Eric T. Johnson of Washington, DC. There will be a Memorial Service Celebrating his life on February 23, 2017, at 6:00 pm, at the Howard High School of Technology, 401 E. 12th Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. In lieu of flowers, a donation may be offered in his memory to the Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation,

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Published in The News Journal from Jan. 20 to Feb. 21, 2017
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