Dave Johnson, a long time Fullerton resident who generously gave his time and talents to benefit the community, passed away on Sunday, July 20th 2008 at his home in Fullerton. He was 76. Dave's civic involvement included service with the Orangethorpe United Methodist Church, the Fullerton Collaborative, Faces of Fullerton, PROBUS, Relay for Life, OCCCO, and the Muckenthaler Car Club, and 17 years as an election inspector.
"I honor Dave for his commitment to improving our community and for all that he did for our hometown," said Helen Higgins, Fullerton resident.
Dave had a particular interest in supporting children and helped with science enrichment in the Fullerton schools. He helped significantly grow the program by connecting retired science professionals with young people. Another program important to Dave was Disney Goals. "Our youngsters got to know Dave periodically over the years and we all know how much he loved kids and wanted to build a bright future for them - especially those who needed more opportunity in their lives," said Dave Wilk, Executive Director of Disney GOALS.
With the ground broken for the Gilbert Community Center in West Fullerton, Dave witnessed the fruition of a long held goal. Pam Keller, Executive Director of the Fullerton Collaborative said, "One of the projects Dave has been working on for years was to get a community center in West Fullerton. The center should be open by the end of the summer, and Dave's memorial fund will be used to buy computers for the center. As you know Dave spent many hours repairing computers to give to needy families. It was a labor of love for him. We know that this would make him happy to have computers at the new center."
Born David Segward Johnson on May 20, 1932 in Newberry, Michigan to Mabel Clementina Hunter and Segward Ferdinand Johnson, Dave grew up with his older sister Barbara Elizabeth. The family moved to Muskegon in 1940 where Dave attended elementary school through junior college. In 1950 Dave joined the service and was eventually stationed at Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, KS.
On a blind date arranged by a fellow serviceman, Dave met Barbara Alice Lyon and they were married eight months later on December 19, 1954. Over the next few years, Dave and Barbara had three daughters while Dave attended Michigan State University where he received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Dave took a job with North American Aviation (later Rockwell International) in Southern California where he worked for his entire 33-year career, and represented the company on two NATO committees. In 1990, Dave retired and enjoyed 18 years of travel and active "leisure" with Barb, including many hours with his five grandchildren.
Dave spent many happy hours pursuing a wide variety of hobbies and passions including woodworking, classic cars, stained glass, golfing, cooking and general adventuring. Dave had a life long love of music in many forms playing a variety of instruments, singing in organized groups, and dancing.
Dave was the kind of man everyone wants as a father, grandfather, partner and friend. He touched many lives, often without realizing the powerful impact he made.
"Dave was and will be an inspiration to all of Fullerton's Cancer survivors. At the Fullerton Relay, Dave would come to me with a big smile and would ask if Relay needed any help. He would do the survivor lap and bring joy to all," said Ruben Gonzalez, American Cancer Society Volunteers. "There will always be a luminaria burning in his honor and memory."
Since the time of his first heart attack 24 years ago, Dave counted every moment as a gift, a bonus, and an unexpected opportunity to pursue more adventures. His zest for life was boundless and contagious. The words "larger than life" are common descriptors. His beloved wife and his family were the source of his happiness; his friends and community were his outlets for expressing that happiness.
Bob Skinner, a friend and longtime Fullerton resident, said that he and Dave had talked about life after a previous surgery and Dave said, "I have had a wonderful life and I don't think I'd change a thing. I've got a wonderful wife, beautiful children and grandchildren, and I've done about everything I've set out to do. If I died tomorrow, I'd have no regrets."
Dave is survived by his wife, Barbara Johnson of Fullerton; daughters Laurie Allyn (Calabasas/Craig), Lynne Tsuda (Fullerton/Ken), and Carol van Ahlers (Anaheim/Cliff ); grandchildren John and Mike van Ahlers, Carly and David Tsuda, and Clayton Allyn; and his sister, Barbara Shierlinger (Lady Lake, FL/Nick).
A Memorial Fund has been created in Dave's honor to support the development of the Gilbert Community Center. Donations may be sent to:
Dave Johnson Memorial Fund
Gilbert Park Community Center
Attn: Barry Ross
C/O St. Jude's Hospital
101 E. Valencia Mesa
Fullerton, CA 92835
[The article above appeared in the August 2008 issue of the Fullerton Observer.]