John Joseph (Jay) Johnson passed away on December 9, 2019. John was born in Cleveland, Ohio on April 2, 1929, the second son of Fred L. and Gertrude P. Johnson. Two months later, he moved to Omaha, Nebraska with his mother and his older brother George, and was joined shortly after by his father. The family later celebrated the arrival of a brother, Richard, and three sisters, Margaret, Gertrude and Mary Claire.
John attended St. Bernard’s grade school, Creighton Preparatory high school and Creighton University, graduating from Creighton with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1951. He served in the U.S. Army from August 1951 to May 1953, and was stationed in Japan and Korea during the Korean War. After his military service, John taught high school in Cumberland, Iowa and Boys Town, Nebraska while working on his graduate studies. He earned a master’s degree in English from Creighton University in 1959 and a doctorate degree in psychology from the University of Nebraska in 1966.
After a brief stint teaching at Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, Nebraska, John accepted an appointment at St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minnesota (now St. Mary’s University). He remained on the St. Mary’s faculty for 44 years, retiring in 2010. While at St. Mary’s, John established the psychology department at the college, serving as its chair, and developed bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the subject. He also served as Graduate Dean and Vice President, Academic Affairs (later Provost) at St. Mary’s. One of John’s proudest achievements at St. Mary’s was the development of a study abroad program in conjunction with West London University. He lived abroad while supervising the program, which later moved to Florence, Italy. John earned the College’s Brother Charles Severin Award for excellence in teaching in 1995.
In addition to his teaching and administrative duties at St. Mary’s, John was a licensed psychologist and performed psychological evaluations for Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center, Green and Associates and the Diocese of Winona, a practice he continued after retiring from St. Mary’s. He traveled extensively during his teaching career and after retirement.
John lived in Winona until February of 2018, when he returned to Omaha to be closer to a larger number of family members. John particularly enjoyed visiting with family members, especially nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. In recent years, he became a devoted fan and follower of the Minnesota Twins, certain that they would rise again. His prophecy was fulfilled in this past baseball season.
John was preceded in death by his parents; brothers-in-law Robert Bowman and James Fowler; and by nephew and namesake John (Jay) Johnson. John is survived by all five of his siblings: George (Margaret) Johnson; Margaret Bowman; Richard (Janet) Johnson; Gertrude Fowler; and Mary Claire Owen; 24 nieces and nephews; and many great-nieces, great-nephews, great-great nieces and great-great nephews.
Memorials may be directed to St. Mary’s University.