Shrewsbury – Rogers Samuel Pyke Johnson, Ph.D., 88, of the Southgate Community in Shrewsbury, a former longtime Holden resident, died peacefully at home with his family Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 after a short illness. He was predeceased by his wife, Patricia.
Born on March 18, 1923 in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, he was a son of the late Percy Samuel and Dorothy Lee (Marquis) Johnson. He was raised in the Ferndale section of Detroit and graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He then joined the United States Navy and attended the U.S. Naval Academy. As a naval operator and officer he served aboard the USS Catoctin (AGC-5). During World War II, the USS Catoctin was assigned to both the Europe-Africa-Middle East and the Asiatic-Pacific Theaters, and participated in the Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign. Following World War II, USS Catoctin was assigned to Occupation and China service in the Far East. It was a prestigious ship known to its members as “the Admiral's Ship.”
Following the war, Mr. Johnson moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked in the Department of Urban Planning & Housing. A move to Manhattan to study at Columbia University provided him the opportunity to meet the love of his life, Patricia Sweeney, a writer and reporter for Time Life Magazine.
A courtship followed and the couple later married at his grandfather's church, Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. They returned to live in Manhattan and with the roll of dice Mr. Johnson moved to Springfield to take a job with the American Red Cross United Federal Disaster Team. During his time, with the Red Cross he aided in two major disasters and it was the beginning of a deeper yearning to aid those less fortunate, become a voice for the underdog and study more into the science of people.
His Master's from Columbia motivated Mr. Johnson to achieve his Ph.D. from Brandeis University in Waltham. While at Brandeis, he taught classes and then later assumed a position as professor at the College of the Holy Cross. For over 25 years, he worked at Holy Cross and became the chairman of its Sociology Department. Having achieved Professor Emeritus he was highly regarded in his department and at “The Cross” where a reading room was named in his honor.
He was active in the A.A.U.P (American Assoc. of University Professors) and was on the governance committee. He was afforded many opportunities in life, but gave back to society two-fold.
He loved music, from classical to big band jazz to more modern groups like Pink Floyd, the Eagles and Neil Young. Always with book in hand and the New York Times beside him, a natural curiosity about people and events fueled Mr. Johnson's passion for information. He played golf, excelled in baseball as a young man and remained a diehard Tigers and Lions fan even though he was an adopted New Englander. His family travelled and they saw much of what this country has to offer. He was also a huge supporter of the arts and made sure that his daughters were exposed to all manner of plays, musicals, symphonies and the ballet.
He summered on the lake in Muskoka, Canada from childhood to college years and his times there held a special memory in his heart. His wife Patricia was active in politics and community in the town of Holden and wherever she was Mr. Johnson was not far behind. Her illness with Parkinson's disease transitioned them to a move to Southgate in Shrewsbury in 2002. Mrs. Johnson's death in October 2005 saddened him immensely but he stayed active in the Southgate community where he was a member of the Resident's Council.
His family would like to extend a word of thanks to the wonderful and caring staff at Hampton Suites at Southgate, the Southgate staff and community, Dr. Stephen Smith, and Dr. Eddison Ramsaran for their kind, gentle and compassionate care.
He leaves his daughters, Anne E. Dodson and her husband R. Craig of Shrewsbury and Sarah K. Connor of Hadley; his son-in-law, Steven J. Connor of Northampton; grandchildren, Benjamin S. Johnson, Samuel Rogers Dodson, Trevor Raymond Dodson, Tara Caradalico, Matthew Cronin and Shaun Connor; his dear cousin, Nita Reignier and her husband Jerome of Cambridge; and his beloved cat, Buddy. He was predeceased by his only brother, Mark Johnson.
Family and friends will honor and remember Rogers’ life by gathering for calling hours Saturday, Jan. 21, from 4 to 7 p.m., in Heald & Chiampa Funeral Directors ~ The Sumner House, 5 Church Rd., On the Common, Shrewsbury Center, and again Sunday, Jan. 22 at Southgate, 30 Julio Dr., Shrewsbury, where his funeral service will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Rev. Cynthia Frado of the Unitarian Universalist Congregational Society of Westborough will officiate. Military honors will conclude the service.
Mr. Johnson's memory may be honored with a contribution to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave, Montgomery, AL 36104 or Wachusett Greenways, P.O. Box 121 Holden, MA 01520.