Obituary: Harry Johnson


Harry Johnson (July 21, 1928 – November 3, 2020)

Harry Lee Johnson, age 92, a resident of Blacksburg, VA for most of his life, passed away on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 in York, PA. 

Harry was born on July 21, 1928 in San Francisco, California to the late Harry Louis Johnson and Rose (Koch) Johnson. The family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1930. Harry and his sister, Lois, lost contact with their father and lost their mother in December 1941. They were separated and lived with different families in the San Francisco Bay area. During his teenage years, Harry had several jobs (e.g., paperboy, machine apprentice in a shipyard, and grocery store clerk). Harry went to Portland, Oregon on his own when he turned 16 and he graduated from a high school in Portland. He enlisted in the United States Army on August 9, 1946 on the G.I. Bill. Harry was stationed in Berlin, Germany working at the message center of the Engineering Command for Berlin and with the Signal Company as a radio repairman. Harry achieved the rank of Corporal and was honorably discharged from the army in July 1949. 
Harry returned to Los Angeles and he received his Bachelor’s degree from West Coast University in the fall of 1952 with a major in mathematics. After graduation, Harry worked for Northrop Aviation Corporation for two years in Hawthorne, California, on a guided missile system. He earned his Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics in 1957 and his PhD in Applied Mathematics in 1960 from the University of Minnesota. After receiving his graduate degrees, Harry joined a research group at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio for two years. He then went to Purdue University and taught for two years as an Assistant Professor in mathematics. Harry accepted an offer to be an Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech in 1965. He became a member of The Society of the Sigma Xi in 1967. Harry was promoted to Associate Professor in June 1969 and retired in June 1992. During his tenure at Virginia Tech, Harry published about eight research papers. He was designated as Associate Professor Emeritus of Mathematics by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors in August 1992. This was granted based on twenty-seven years of service and many research papers and contributions to the area of Boundary Value Problems. Harry continued after retirement refining a paper on a tethered balloon problem. 
Harry met Harriet Farrier in the spring of 1968 in the Virginia Tech mathematics department while she was obtaining her master’s degree. On June 10, 1969, Harry and Harriet were married in Roanoke, Virginia. Harry and Harriet built a loving home for their two children, Paula and Brian. Some interests that Harry enjoyed were traveling, doing puzzles, playing games, reading, watching Hokie football, and woodworking. Harry will be remembered as a loving and giving father. He adored his three grandchildren. 

Survivors include his two children, Paula (Michael Wynne) Johnson of New Freedom, Pennsylvania, and Brian (Kalyna Nedilsky) Johnson of Columbia, Maryland; three grandchildren, Gabriella and Juliana Wynne and Jae Johnson; sister-in-law, Pence Farrier Ellis of Herndon, Virginia; brother-in-law, Dr. Paul (Evelyn) Farrier, Jr. of Blacksburg, Virginia; along with nieces and nephews. Harry was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Harriet Johnson; his parents, Harry and Rose Johnson; his sister, Lois Jean Marr; and brother-in-law Roy Howard Ellis. 

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This obituary was originally published here.