JOHNSON, Dr. Thomas Alexander "Alex", "If they were lucky enough to know him - the whole world would have rooted for him and his recovery."
JOHNSON, Dr. Thomas Alexander "Alex," 28, of Prince George, Va., became one with the geological record on July 21, 2020, in Santa Barbara, California, following a heroic, month-long fight for his life. During the short time Alex Johnson spent on this rock circling the sun, Alex's attributes were as varied as the rocks he studied. A true conglomerate of a man, he was a devoted son, a loving brother, an enthusiastic scholar, an impactful educator, an accomplished geologist and a generous friend.
To see, meet and know Alex were three incredibly distinct things:
To just see Alex Johnson, you at once knew everything yet nothing of the man. Hidden behind a bushy footlong beard, glasses, a cap (often of the coonskin variety) and shabby chic thrift store finds (highlighted by his notoriously ratty boat shoes and skin tight pants), it was quite easy to assume Alex as either an eccentric scholar or quite possibly a well-spoken and highly learned vagabond.
For those brave enough to get the opportunity to meet Alex, they would encounter a seemingly bashful and morose young man whose bright blue eyes gave a true look into who Alex was as a person. In meeting him, you would glimpse that beyond his well-curated outward appearance lie a gentle civility and non-judgmental consideration unknown by most people and many would feel an immediate, almost eerie, cosmic connection.
Those lucky enough to truly know Alex were treated with an empathetic compassion which exuded from Alex's porous soul. Profound and hilarious witticisms, bejeweled by cavernous knowledge of esoteric references encompassing everything from indie musical artists so obscure that they barely knew they were even in a band, to where you can get the best fish tacos or veggie burgers in over a dozen states and across multiple continents, rained from him in his soft and gentle voice. Those who knew Alex would often be bombarded by his unique laugh, enamored by his insatiable thirst for knowledge and overwhelmed by his immense love and devotion.
In addition to his dedication to his friends and family, Alex devoted his life to gathering knowledge, continuously working to glean insight into the world around him. This breadth of knowledge and passion for learning were nurtured by an incredible menagerie of brilliant professors, colleagues, students and friends across the country and around the globe. While imbibing in these pursuits he obtained numerous awards, scholarships and distinctions along the way. Alex attended the College of William and Mary as an undergraduate and then Geology Fellow. He then traveled across the country to obtain his master's degree in Geology at Washington State University. Just like at W&M, he continued to rabblerouse listeners of the university's radio station while simultaneously delighting their ears with his offbeat musical taste. After two years of Washington State's cold and rainy winters, Alex headed for warmer weather posthumously obtaining his doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose Geology Department has already established a departmental award in his honor. To say his family and friends are proud of Alex's accomplishments is a mountainous understatement.
Dr. Alex Johnson is survived by his parents, Chad and Micaela Johnson; and an older brother, CeJae Vtipilson and his wife, Amanda. He was preceded in death by doting maternal grandparents, Tom and Dorothy Galderise. He is also survived by his grandparents, Chuck and Carolyn Johnson; and great-grandmother, Evelyn Johnson. Alex had many beloved aunts, uncles and cousins, all of whom are mourning his passing.
A socially distanced and COVID conscious graveside service will be held at 1 p.m. September 11, at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Petersburg, Va.
Alex passed away from a ruptured brain aneurysm caused by a very common yet manageable chronic medical condition, hypertension (high blood pressure). In memory of Alex, his family asks that whomever reads this to please check your blood pressure and make sure that you take the necessary measures to keep your numbers in check so that no other families will be dealt such a devastating blow as ours.
In lieu of flowers, Dr. Johnson's family asks that you consider getting out and exploring this wonderous world we have the pleasure of living on. If you do wish to give a gift in Alex's memory, you may donate to a GoFundMe account (gf.me/u/yrgyua
) created in Alex's honor, proceeds from which will be used to assist future scholars in their endeavors to enhance our understanding of our planet and help create a more compassionate and gentle world.
Published by Richmond Times-Dispatch on Sep. 9, 2020.