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Arthur Edwin White Johnson ’53

A picture of Art Johnson

Arthur Edwin White Johnson ’53, October 23, 2012, in Oakland, California, after a brief reoccurrence of cancer. A California Scholarship Foundation honors student, Art intended to study at Stanford but enrolled at Reed because of his interest in science and mathematics and the reputation of F.L. Griffin [mathematics, 1911–54] known to his high school counselor. Art arrived at the college at the age of 16. “I wanted to go to a small school,” he said in an interview in 2007. “I had been active in sports in high school and it was an important diversion for me. And Reed didn’t have a very large program, but you were able to participate. I also liked the academic environment. It was the first time I’d really been pressed in schooling.” Art and Edgar Jacobs ’53 became best friends on campus and were involved in football, swimming, and basketball; Art refereed junior varsity basketball and played on the varsity team. “In football, I was the quarterback. I tell my grandkids I was a starting quarterback at college at age 16. It doesn’t mean anything, but it sounds good.” He also worked as a lifeguard and lined the sports fields. During winter breaks and summers, he worked at the Shell Oil Refinery in Martinez, California. It was there that he met his future wife, Janice L. McDow. And it was in an economics class with Art Leigh [economics 1945–88] that Art found his academic focus. After transferring to the University of California, Berkeley, he earned an AB with honors in economics and premedicine (the latter because his mother wanted him to be a doctor). He served in the army during the Korean War, stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco, and afterward returned to UC Berkeley, where he earned an MBA in industrial relations. Art worked for Procter & Gamble in Ohio, and then as industrial relations manager for the Kroger Company in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. In 1980, he became director of labor relations for the California Metal Trades Association; he was also president of the Bay Area chapter of the Industrial Relations Research Association. After retiring in 2000, he worked for his daughter and volunteered as a highway patrol officer for Castro Valley. He coordinated the volunteer staff at all UC Berkeley home basketball games for 20 years and also volunteered at polling sites during elections. Survivors include a son and daughter, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. His wife, a son, and a grandchild predeceased him.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2013

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