Dick Johnson, 88, died peacefully on June 17, 2022 with his wife Margaret Ann Wodetzki and daughter Tawny Elizabeth Johnson at his side at St. Catherine’s Village in Madison, MS.
Dick was born on September 2, 1933 in Chicago, IL to Carl and Anne Johnson. He graduated from Amundsen High School and received a BA degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Chicago in 1954. He joined the United States Army and after training, spent almost two years in Korea.
At this time he had decided to pursue the study of philosophy and obtained a BA degree in Philosophy at UCLA and a MA degree in Philosophy at the University of Colorado. While studying in Boulder, Dick worked as an Advising Assistant to the Academic Dean at the university. During that time he learned about an open position as Dean of Students at Tougaloo College. This opportunity to work at a liberal arts college, which was a center of the Civil Rights Movement, combined two of his passions, teaching young people and dedication to equality.
In the summer of 1965 he and his wife Ann (Annabeth Balance) moved to Mississippi with their two young children. After two years as Dean of Students Dick began teaching in the Department of Philosophy and Religion and became Chairman of the department.
Involvement in his Community and efforts to protect and expand human rights were essential parts of Dick’s life and he took on many leadership roles. He served as President of the Jackson Human Relations Council in the early 70’s and was President and Treasurer of the Board of ACLU of MS and was its representative to the National ACLU Board. As a member of Common Cause MS he served many years as Board Member and President promoting citizen involvement in our democracy. Utilizing his background in Ethics, he served on the Institutional Review Board of UMMC. In retirement, he volunteered at Stewpot Community Services, Contact the Crisis Line and the tutoring program at the Tisdale Library. He was a devoted father to his children, Tawny of Jackson and Eric Richard (Kristen) Johnson of Paoli, Pennsylvania. Dick and Margaret had many shared interests, including their passion for serving their community and working for justice.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Lynn Hankel and his god-daughter Herticene Clay Draine.
He is survived by his wife, his children, and his grandchildren, Xenia Rain Minton and David Willard Johnson, and his sister Gail Johnson Schauer as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Woodworth Chapel on the Tougaloo College campus on Tuesday, July 19 at 10:00 a.m.