Cover photo for Richard Arlan Johnson's Obituary
Richard Arlan Johnson Profile Photo

Richard Arlan Johnson

Richard Arlan Johnson “Dick,” the only child of Marie (Ruesgen) and Richard Charles Johnson, was born June 28, 1936 in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and died December 21, 2020, at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. Dick never lost his Wisconsin accent, nor his love for hunting and fishing which he shared with his father starting at an early age. They frequently arose at 5 a.m., before school started, to go duck hunting along the Mississippi flyway or to go rabbit or deer hunting. But there were many facets to Dick. His love of his family, and his wife of 60 years, Darlene (Weiland), son Dean and daughter-in-law Carol (Warner), daughter Christine Lankford, and daughter Cassandra Johnson, was first and foremost.

Dick graduated from Logan High School in La Crosse and attended his 1946 classmates’ annual reunions every year until 2018. After graduation he joined the Navy, hoping to become an airman and just before his acceptance into flight school, he tested color blind. He could not distinguish between a small dot of red light and a small dot of green light so, during his Naval stint from 1956 through 1959, he served as an Aviation Structural Mechanic on the USS Roosevelt. After his military service, Dick received his BA degree from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, moved to Virginia and entered the Federal Government workforce as a Management Intern and as a Technology and Manpower Analyst. From 1971-1974 he was Chief of Special Case Studies in the Executive Office of the President. Until his retirement in 1991, he served as a senior policy analyst and then the manager of state and local databases clearinghouse in the Department of Commerce. He was the recipient of numerous Outstanding Service awards and recognition throughout his 32-year career and took many graduate courses, focusing on leadership, technology and computer programming. On the weekend, not to be daunted by his color blindness, Dick took flying lessons at the airfield at Skyline Center. He knew that he was limited to daytime flying, but becoming an airplane pilot, he would. Dick was very much a family man, devoted to his wife and children. In 1968 he included into the family unit a hunting dog, the first Gordon Setter of six sequentially adopted Gordons over the next fifty-two years. He was a Boy Scout leader, and handyman, remodeling the basement, and building a family room addition and doing all those things for which others would have called in a plumber or an electrician. He valued good tools and cared for them as a cook maintains her equipment. He had learned much from his carpenter father. Weekends and vacations were devoted to family; he strung together 7 vacation weeks and in 1976 – our country’s bicentennial, bought a big old station wagon, and the family camped across the western part of the United States. Two years later, the family undertook a similar 3-week trip across New England. After his retirement from the Federal Government, Dick volunteered at the Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross, setting up the computer network, maintaining it, and training staff as needed. To satisfy Dick’s love of the outdoors, he purchased land on Lake Anna in Spotsylvania, Virginia and in 2003 had a house built on it. Dick aspired to be the king of the walleye fisherman, but never caught one. He subscribed to the Walleye magazine, Outdoor Life, Fisherman-Insider, Field and Stream, and (having always remained interested in our country and our world) Bloomberg, Business Week, Time, The Week, Forbes, Newsweek, and more. He was an avid and fast reader, managing to read a book or two each week as well. Dick and his wife were members of Fairlington Presbyterian Church from 1965 until 2018. During this time, he was a choir member (he loved good music), a trustee, and organizer of a men’s group. In 2018 he and his wife joined Westminster Presbyterian Church where he continued, as his health allowed, to participate in the men’s group. As Dick goes to be with our Lord, he leaves behind his immediate family and 10 grandchildren, Leslie, Maxim, Natalie, and Nathan Johnson, Claire, Richard “Forrest”, Jessica and Eden Lankford, and Faye (Javaudin) Pruiett, and Sebastien Javaudin as well as grandson-in-law Douglas Pruiett and great-granddaughter, Scarlet Pruiett. Dick believed in the basic goodness of all people. He was a doer, a builder, a giver and there was an openness about him with his wry sense of humor, his integrity, his good judgment, his courage and his compassion.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 6 at 2 p.m., EST at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2701 Cameron Mills Road, Alexandria, VA, 22302. For safety the church will only allow 25 people – wearing masks and social distancing – in attendance. Those wishing to attend will have to pre-register. The memorial service will also be viewable on livestream.

In Dick’s memory, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to VCU Massey Cancer Center, Box 843042, Richmond, VA 23284 or Doctors Without Borders.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard Arlan Johnson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Westminster Presbyterian Church

2701 Cameron Mills Road, Alexandria, VA 22302

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