Howard “Chuck” Johnson
Howard “Chuck” Johnson passed away on Friday, May 6, 2016, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. He was born on September 17, 1928, in Galesburg, Illinois. His parents were Clifford and Augusta Johnson. He grew up in Clinton, Iowa, a town on the Mississippi River surrounded by bluffs and woods. As a child, Chuck loved fishing in the Mississippi and playing in the woods and on the bluffs. “I was a river rat. I loved to be outdoors. It’s always a part of me,” he said.
His father died when he was 11 years old so he worked through grammar and high school. At seventeen, he enlisted in the Navy for three years and served as a meteorologist (WWII veteran). When discharged he entered Iowa State University graduating in 1954, with a B.S. in forestry and botany. It was Chuck’s last quarter at Iowa State University when he and Bev Miller met. She finished her last year at college while Chuck wrote a daily letter to ‘his love’ while working in Oregon. They married in 1956, in Ohio then moved to Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Busy years followed raising four children. Chuck and Bev were to celebrate their wonderful marriage of 60 years this fall.
Chuck was hired by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Illinois, in 1962 and served as Executive Director for 32 years. He had the vision to realize the county was changing. He foresaw explosive growth in the population and the need to preserve land while it was still available and affordable. “If we didn’t do something to address open space needs and our environment, we would lose it forever,” he said. Years of sound financial management provided an A+ bond rating for passage of bonds for support of Chuck’s land acquisition plans. The district grew from 1,500 acres to 23,000 acres during his tenure.
Chuck had great pride receiving the Cornelius Pugsley Medal Award in 1989, from the National Park Foundation as the nation’s top local park administrator. He always had great pride in his many accomplishments.
Retirement in 1994, brought Chuck and Bev to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Chuck loved living in this beautiful valley. He was thrilled with the streams to fly fish in, the mountains, the evergreen trees, especially ponderosa pine trees, the brightness and warmth of the sun, the clear night skies to view the stars—he loved the out of doors!
Chuck was an active member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and especially loved singing with the church choir. Also active in the community, he created the Canyon Creek Estates Memorial for the 14 firefighters who died at the Storm King Mountain fire. He served on the Aspen Valley Land Trust, the Glenwood Springs Rural Fire Protection District, as president, a member of Kiwanis Club. Chuck is survived by his wife Beverly Johnson, 3 sons, Kurt (Ellen) Johnson, Alaska; Erik (“Don”) Johnson, Alaska; Craig Johnson, Colorado; daughter, Karin Johnson, Illinois. Also are 5 grandchildren, Kjol, Miles, and Signe Johnson, Alaska; Kjetil and Landar Johnson, Alaska.
Donations can be made in Chuck’s memory to: The Nature Conservancy, High Country News and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Glenwood Springs, CO.
A memorial service will be held at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Glenwood Springs, CO. on Saturday, June 11th at 2 PM.
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