March 7, 1928 - August 28, 2014
Lt. Col. William Thomas Johnson, Jr., USAF, (Ret.), age 86, went to his eternal reward on August 28, 2014. He was preceded in death by his parents, William T. and Velma Ewalt Johnson of Terrell, Texas. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Barbara Tate Johnson; daughters Dorothy Gayle Rhoades and husband Howard Rhoades, Deborah Louise Golightly and husband Harold Golightly, and Rebecca Anne Speller and husband David Speller, all of Houston; and sons William Charles Johnson and wife Robin Coley Johnson and Stephen Patrick Johnson of San Antonio; eight grandchildren including three granddaughters Megan Johnson, Allison Speller, Caitlin Rhoades; and five grandsons, Kyle Johnson, Christopher Johnson, Michael, Matthew and James Speller; a younger brother, James Douglas Johnson of Stephenville, Texas and younger sister, Linda Sue Hughes of Forney, Texas.
William Johnson was a WWII, Korea and Vietnam Veteran. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17 and was sent to Texas A&M College until he turned 18. At that time he was assigned to Ft. Bragg, N. Carolina, where he served for the next 9 months before being discharged with the rank of Sergeant. He returned to Texas A&M and joined the Corps of Cadets. He was subsequently inducted into the Ross Volunteers (pictured above), graduated in 1950 and was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant. During his 27 years in the military, he was twice promoted ahead of his peers. He had assignments in Korea, Florida, Texas A&M (where he earned a Masters degree in Civil Engineering in 1955), Alaska, Ohio, Germany, Spain, Vietnam and Missouri, retiring from the Air Force with the rank of Lt. Col. in 1971. His numerous military decorations most notably included the Legion of Merit which he received in Vietnam.
After retiring from the Air Force, he managed the San Antonio office of Texas Testing Laboratories for several years before joining the Raba Kistner Engineering Consulting Firm, returning to A&M University to earn his Doctorate in Engineering in 1981, thirty-one years after receiving his B.S. degree. He also served as Director of Maintenance at Air Force Villages I and II before opening Wm T Johnson Consulting Services, Inc. He later became a Laboratory Inspector for American Association of Laboratory Accreditation doing on-site laboratory inspections and travelling across the U.S. and to diverse locations overseas, including Guam, Kuwait and Bahrain as a Geotechnical Engineering Expert.
During the course of his career, he designed and supervised the first permanent building on the Arctic floating ice pack; taught Lunar Soil Mechanics at the Air Force Institute of Technology, School of Engineering at Wright Patterson AFB where he accurately predicted the chemical composition of lunar soil through spectroscopic analysis of reflected lunar light long before the first soft landing on the moon; supervised the construction of what was at the time the largest aircraft hangar in the world; did x-ray analysis of the entire length of the Amistad Dam; and was involved in the construction of many of the prominent buildings in San Antonio including the KCI Tower and the Frost Bank Building.
He was a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish, the Knights of Columbus; a member of and later Commander of the San Antonio Power Squadron; a member of and later President of the San Antonio Chapter of the American Welding Society; a member of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers; and the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, September 4th from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM, followed by a brief Memorial service and Rosary officiated by Msgr. Douglas Fater in the Porter Loring Chapel on McCullough. Following Mass at the Arlington Chapel, Lt. Col. Johnson will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C at a later date.
Honorary Pallbearers are his grandsons and his long time friend, Edwin Lamm. The family is very grateful for the TLC given their loved one by the caring staff and personnel of Gentiva Hospice, and requests, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to Gentiva Hospice Foundation, 3350 Riverwood Parkway, Suite 1400, Atlanta, Georgia 30329 or www.gentivahospicefoundation.org.
You are invited to sign the Guestbook at www.porterloring.com