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#1 - JRL 7063
Athol Daily News (Massachusetts)
February 2003

PETERSHAM -- Walter Russell Johnson, Jr., 84, known as Russell Johnson, of Petersham, died Feb. 11, 2003, of congestive heart failure in Chicago, near his daughter, Leda Brubaker.

      Russell was born on June 9, 1918 in Farmington, Minn., son of Walter Johnson and Mary Swain Johnson.  He graduated from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota and later attended the Harvard Divinity School.

      During World War II Russell was a conscientious objector and did his alternative service at a mental hospital near Philadelphia. It is there that he met Irene Rockwood, whom he married in 1942.  Irene, born in Kurnool, India, worked as a visiting nurse and was a dedicated activist for peace and a strong supporter of her husband's activities.  Irene died in January 1999.

       Survivors include two sons and a daughter: David Johnson of Silver Spring, Md. and his wife, Lisa Cannon;  Paul Johnson of Watertown, Ma. and his wife, Alice; and Leda Brubaker of Chicago, Ill. and her husband, Lauren Brubaker.  Mr. Johnson also leaves four grandchildren: Keir, Blake and Laurel Johnson, all children of David, and Kate Brubaker. Russell is also survived by his sister, Alice Loveless, of Avinger, Tex. and her husband Leonard.

      Russell Johnson was employed by the American Friends Service Committee from 1950 to 1984 as Peace Education Secretary in the New England office. He  was an energetic speaker on peace and international issues and a tireless organizer of conferences and other activities directed toward better understanding between peoples of the world.  He became an expert on issues relating to the Cold War, the Vietnam war, and Asia.  He and Irene and traveled extensively in the U. S. and around the world in the course of his work; Irene documented their travels photographically.

      In the years 1960 through 1965, Russell directed the Quaker-sponsored Conference and Seminar Program for diplomats and young leaders in South and Southeast Asia, living with his family in New Delhi, India.  After retiring from the AFSC in 1984 Russell spent one year as the acting executive director of the Unitarian-Universalist Service Committee.

      From the early 1950s the Johnson family's home has been on West Road in Petersham.  In later years Russell was active in the Petersham Unitarian  Church.  He loved the country life and was an expert at chopping firewood.  He was an enthusiastic sports fan, especially of the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics.  After retirement Russell and Irene traveled the U. S. in their camper.  They particularly enjoyed attending blue grass music festivals and fishing.  Fresh-water fishing is a Johnson family obsession, shared by sons and grandchildren, dating from Russ's early years in Minnesota.

      A memorial service will be held in Petersham in the spring, on a date to be announced.

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