Donald Riley Johnson, aged 74, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, on October 27, 2021 at Boone Hospital Center. He was born February 2, 1947 in Pittsfield, IL to James Lowell Johnson of Pleasant Hill, IL and Patty Ruth Riley of Midway, TX. He began school in Centralia, MO and completed 3rd grade there. The rest of his early education was at Hallsville Schools, where he graduated from high school in 1965. He attended the University of Missouri at Columbia after high school, obtaining a BA in Education in 1970. He later achieved a Master Degree in Education in 1974 working his way through college. Don was drafted into the U.S. Army in September of 1970. He was stationed in Darmstadt, Germany where he provided support for the American armored forces. After military service he taught high school history in Fayette, MO, and then taught at the Boonville Correctional Facility, and then at the state prison in Moberly, MO. He helped prisoners obtain their GED certifications, a necessary condition for many of them to be able to obtain parole.
Don married Dorothy Howard of Columbia, MO in the summer of 1968. They were divorced in 1974. Then he married the love of his life, Mary Clark of St. Elizabeth, MO, in November of 1979. They spent many wonderful years together teaching, traveling, and supporting numerous charitable organizations. Mary passed away in December of 2011.
Don is survived by son, Phillip Clark and wife Joan of Knoxville, TN, and grandsons, Joseph Anderson of Denver, CO and Stuart Clark of Knoxville, TN. He is also survived by brothers, Ron Johnson and John Johnson both of Columbia, sisters, Ruth Meeks and her husband Mike of Centralia, MO and Jamie Mitchell and her husband Maurice of Hallsville, MO. His niece Kimberly Slivka passed away in 2016.
Don had a wide field of interests and activities. He had expert knowledge of American and World History and politics, American and World Literature, and American popular music. He was particularly well versed in the history of the American Civil War, and the history of Germany in the period between the World Wars. Don was passionate about politics and improving the lives of those around him. He was active in the Democratic party at the local and national level. He worked tirelessly on many campaigns from the 1980’s through 2020. He loved roots and blues music, including early 1950’s rock, rock-a-billy and doo-wop. His love of music began when he got a small Japanese 6 transistor model radio for Christmas in 1960. That started many nights of late night listening to music from WLS in Chicago and KAAY in Little Rock. He loved attending music concerts ranging from Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnics (twice!), the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and dozens of Bob Dylan concerts. He loved baseball and attended many major league games across the country. He followed the Cardinals on TV and was there win or lose.
Don and Mary supported many charitable organizations. Among them were Habitat for Humanity, environmental organizations, local school supply drives, and local food banks. In keeping with their charitable nature, please consider contributions to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri (https://sharefoodbringhope.org/), in lieu of flowers.
The family wishes to recognize the skilled and compassionate care given by the staff of the Boone Hospital Center. Special thanks to the staff of the surgical ICU unit.
There will be no service. The celebration of life for Saturday, December 4, 2021 at the Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel has been CANCELED.
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