News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

David DeWitt Johnson July 30, 1927 – May 18, 2020

David DeWitt Johnson of Washington, DC, died peacefully on May 18, due to COVID-19.

David was born July 30, 1927 in Moscow, Idaho to Blanche and Lauren Johnson of Orofino. He met the love of his life, Anne, while they were both teaching in Sisters, two among the district’s four teachers. They were married in June, 1956 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bend. They raised two children, Shelley and Phillip.

David served in the Navy at the end of World War II, attended Oregon State College, graduated from the University of Oregon, and completed a fellowship in public affairs at the Coro Foundation in San Francisco. After working briefly in the fishing and logging industries, David spent his career in education, teaching in France, Oregon, and Germany, returning to Sisters as principal and superintendent.

In 1963 David became executive secretary of the Oregon State Scholarship Commission. From there he was invited to Washington, DC under the Lyndon Johnson administration to direct the new Educational Opportunity Grants program, and its companion, Talent Search. In this position, David built a multi-racial multi-ethnic staff that represented the students it would serve. He was passionately devoted to providing educational opportunities for low-income, disadvantaged, disabled, and first generation college


After 17 years with the US Office, and later Department, of Education, David joined the Academy for Educational Development. One of his assignments was directing desegregation of higher education in Shreveport, LA. He next administered the Academy’s International Visitor Projects for the United States Information Agency, his staff growing the projects from four to around 24 a year. In all aspects of life, his hospitality shone brightly. He and Anne hosted groups in their home; he arranged similar welcomes in other regions of the US. In one instance, a young visitor became ill, but needed to travel from Washington to Chicago. David accompanied him on the train just to be sure he was okay.

This was David’s essence. Hospitality, easing the suffering of others, making the world a better place for all. Many will remember him lovingly preparing a meal at the kitchen counter, whether a sit-down dinner for fifty to celebrate Anne’s birthday, a weekly gourmet dinner for the men at Crossroads Shelter, a simple family meal, or hand-squeezed orange juice for a visiting toddler. Over years of vacations with family and friends, David filled the car’s trunk with his favorite pans and kitchen tools, hosting and feasting uninterrupted.

David was devoted to his faith community at St. Alban’s Church, where for years he organized events, handled all things logistical, was a Stephen minister, volunteer coordinator, usher, office assistant, and everything else involving spreading love and hospitality among people. He embodied love. In its generous giving, he received it.

He is deeply missed by his wife Anne Johnson, children Phillip Johnson and Shelley Chambers (Joe), grandson Brendan Chambers, David’s church family, and his beloved cousins and friends the world over.


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 06/21/2024 19:36