We offer our condolences to the family and colleagues of the Rev. David A. Johnson, who died on July 22, 2019, at the age of 83.
David was born on October 16, 1935, in Buffalo, NY, to Axel H. Johnson and Glenna B. Johnson. He graduated from Antioch College, OH, in 1958, with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, following which he received his Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Illinois in 1961. In 1964, David earned his Bachelor of Divinity from the Meadville Lombard Theological School, IL.
David was welcomed into Preliminary Fellowship on April 14, 1964, and ordained on October 25, 1964, by the Unitarian Society of Cleveland, OH. Following his ordination, he served the UU Church of Bloomington, IN (1964-1970), and then the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, PA (1970-1973). In 1973, Rev. Johnson accepted a call from the UU Church of Tucson, AZ; he ministered there for fifteen years, until 1988. Finally, he fulfilled his parish ministry at the First Parish in Brookline, MA (1988-2003), before his retirement in 2003.
After his retirement, Rev. Johnson was drawn to interim ministry and served as an interim minister at the following congregations: First Unitarian Church in New Bedford, MA (2003-2005); the First Parish UU Church, Bridgewater, MA (2005-2006); the Unitarian Church of Marlborough & Hudson, MA (2006-2007); the UU Meeting House, Chatham, MA (2007-2008); and the First Parish in Plymouth, MA (2008-2010). In 2010, the UU Church of Tucson, AZ, honored him as Minister Emeritus for his meritorious service to the congregation. From 2010 to 2012, Rev. Johnson served the UU Meeting House of Provincetown, MA; and finally, the United First Parish Church, Quincy, MA (2012-2014).
Rev. Johnson’s service on behalf of the denomination was extensive. He was the business manager for the First UU College Conference, Lake Forest, IL (1961); and a member and officer, for the Liberal Religious Scholars Collegium. He served as a chairman for the Ohio Valley UU Congregation (OVUUC) College Centers Committee (1964-1968), Nominating Committee (1966), and Conference (1962); and was a Host Minister in 1966. Thereafter, Rev. Johnson functioned as a member of the Advisory Committee, UUA Division of Education (1967-1969), and Division of Education & S.R. Curriculum Development Committee on UU Identity (1971-1975). He was president for the Alumni Association of the Meadville Lombard Theological School (1972-1974), and an organizer for the International Association of Religious Freedom Native American Conference (1976). From 1980 to 1982, Rev. Johnson worked as a board member for the Pacific Southwest District Board, UUA; and for the UU Support of Sanctuary as a founder and chair (1986).
Beyond his ministry and denominational activities, Rev. Johnson was affiliated with several community organizations. He was officer and committee chair for the American Civil Liberties Union; and President for the Pima Council on Aging and Tucson Interfaith Coalition on Aging. He served as a board member for the Apache Cultural History Foundation; Parents United; and United Way President’s Council. Furthermore, David chaired the Independence Citizens Committee; Tucson Unified School District; and Sanctuary Covenant Churches. In his spare time, he enjoyed skiing, sailing and writing articles on Gerontological Theology, and Universalist and Unitarian History.
David is survived by his wife Julie Coulter; his sons Kirk Johnson, Erik Johnson, and Matthew Johnson; his stepchildren James (Jim) MacDonald, Nancy MacDonald and Darren MacDonald; and his several grandchildren and a step grandchild.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners Association. Please address the donations to Dave Hunter, Treasurer, 535 Gradyville Road #V-211, Newton Square, PA 19073 with a note “In memory of David A. Johnson” on the memo line.
A celebration of David’s life was held at 2 pm on Thursday, August 1, 2019, at the First Parish of Brookline, 382 Walnut St, Brookline, MA 02445. Notes of condolences may be sent to Julie Coulter at 25 Allen Avenue, North Providence, RI 02911.
Please Note: The UUMA has two members named David A. Johnson. Retired Interim minister, the Rev. Dr. David A. Johnson
, continues to reside in Overland Park, Kansas