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David Simonds Johnson ’44

David Simonds Johnson ’44, December 17, 2004, in Annapolis, Maryland. David attended Reed for a year in the U.S. Army Premeteorology Program. He also studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard, before receiving an AB (1948) and MA (1949) in meteorology from UCLA. From 1943 to 1946, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. In 1946 he joined the U.S. Weather Bureau in Boise, Idaho, as a meteorological aide. He transferred to UCLA as an associate meteorologist, working there from 1947 to 1952, after which he was an associate meteorologist with the Pineapple Research Institute in Hawaii. In 1956 he moved to the U.S. Weather Bureau in Suitland, Maryland, and was a founding member of the National Weather Satellite Center. For 26 years he directed the center and its successors, becoming the first assistant administrator for satellites and data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He also forwarded the idea, currently in practice, of geostationary weather satellites to be utilized by all nations. David was a fellow and president of the American Meteorological Society, and member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In the international arena, he worked with the Committee on Space Research, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, and various bilateral and multilateral planning and negotiation groups for environmental satellites. He received numerous awards during his career, including the Department of Commerce’s Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Achievement (1965), NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal (1966), the Presidential rank award of Meritorious Executive (1980), and the achievement award of the American Astronautical Society (1981). He retired in 1994 from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, where he was director of the National Weather Service Modernization Council. Survivors include three stepdaughters from his second marriage, five step-grandchildren, and three step-great-grandchildren.

Appeared in Reed magazine: May 2005

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