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James L. Johnson, 82

-SEPT. 19, 2012

September 21, 2012

James L. Johnson, 82, a longtime system engineer with IBM Federal Systems and community volunteer, died Wednesday, Sept., 19, 2012, at Somerford Assisted Living in Hagerstown, Md., of liver cancer.

Jim graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1953 with master's degrees in math and engineering, and worked on missile guidance systems for IBM in Owego, N.Y., and Gaithersburg, Md., for 24 years before retiring in 1987. He previously held positions with the Northrup and Lockheed companies in California, where he met his wife.

Jim was born in Hopkins, Minn., to Swedish and Norwegian parents (a mixed marriage, as he liked to quip). After retiring, seeing how much fun his wife was having with her genealogy, he decided to research his family history, traveling to Scandinavia on several occasions to meet relatives. His passion resulted in two books that are being enjoyed on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Owego, Jim was active in Toastmasters, American Cancer Society, Sons of Norway, Owego Camera Club and square dancing. He also was a Boy Scout leader, and dressed as a convincing Lurch from "The Addams Family" TV show at Halloween. He was an active church member wherever he lived.

After his retirement, Jim eventually settled in the Hagerstown area, where he was active in numerous charitable and community activities. He worked with homeless shelters in both Frederick and Hagerstown, and enjoyed being an active Kiwanian in Hagerstown. 

He was a founding member of the New Horizons Band, learning to play music for the first time at age 69.

He was known as a wicked punster who had a flair for word play, and for his Sunday morning pancakes. His sense of humor stayed with him to the end.

He is greatly missed by his survivors, including his wife of 57 years, Donna; four children, Karen Johnson of Sacramento, Calif., Sandy Fountain of Fairfax, Va., Laura Whiting of Northport, Ala., and Andy Johnson of Owego; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.

Donations in Jim's memory may be made to Hospice of Washington County, 747 Northern Ave., Hagerstown, MD, 21742 or First Christian Church, 1345 Potomac Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21742.

Condolences may be sent to Donna Johnson, 10116 Sharpsburg Pike, Hagerstown, MD 21740.

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