In Memory of Richard R. Johnson


A gathering of family and friends will be held from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Sunday, September 10, 2017 at Rod & Gun Park, Eau Claire, WI


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Richard Russell “Rich” Johnson, age 64, passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, August 9, 2017 at the Gathering at Boutwells Landing in Oak Park Heights, MN.  He spent his last several weeks at his home in Hudson, WI, enjoying the beauty of late summer with family and friends.   

Rich was born on August 4, 1953 in Eau Claire, to parents, Russell and Patricia (McConville) Johnson. He graduated from Regis High School in Eau Claire, class of 1971, and continued his education at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Life Sciences, and a Masters Degree in Education.

He worked as a high school biology teacher for several schools, including Altoona, Medford, Regis, and Eau Claire Memorial, inspiring countless students to learn about and appreciate the complex beauty of the natural world.  Even outside of the classroom, he would always find ways to include a quick science lesson in everyday life.

Early in his life, Rich married Nancy Johnson (Martin).  Together they raised two children, Emily (Cory) Dahl of St Paul, MN and Colin (Kristina) Johnson of Seattle, WA.  Later, Rich and Lori Poppe found each other and were married April 6, 2012.  Rich will remain in the hearts of his mother, wife, children, sister Linda (Larry) Berger of Menomonie, WI, grandchildren Cohen and Keller Dahl and Callum Johnson, three step-children, and so many other relatives and friends.  He is preceded in death by his father and siblings Sandy and Craig Johnson.

His passion for gardening was evident by the immense beauty and bounty of his yard and all the various flowers and plants that surrounded his home.  You were never far from a delicious, healthy, home cooked meal filled with fresh herbs and veggies pulled from the ground not 10 minutes before.  He valued all living things, from his family, to the tall pines outside his window, all the way down to the spider living in his workshop.   An opportunity to go for a bike ride or drop a line in the water was rarely missed, and he always preferred to share these experiences with family and friends. In his retirement in Hudson, WI, he and Lori were able to fulfill his dreams of beautiful gardens and a lovely home where family and friends could gather and experience the outdoors he so loved.

Rich’s kindness, wonder for the world, and humble strength was not common.  Those that knew him well would say he was clever, goofy, open-minded, curious, and above all, caring.  He lived a meaningful life of love, loyalty, and compassion and his best qualities are alive and well within his children.  They will continue to instill the kinds of life lessons he would have had so much joy in: whether fun, inspiring, or truly character forming, he was ready and willing for all of it.  He will be incredibly missed.

A gathering of family and friends will be held from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Sunday, September 10, 2017 at Rod & Gun Park, 1515 Rod & Gun Park Dr., Eau Claire, WI.  In lieu of flowers, any monetary gifts received to family will be donated to Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Eau Claire Memorial High School’s Environmental Club, per Rich’s wishes.  Please also consider becoming a bone marrow donor with Be The Match.

Richard R. Johnson's Tribute Wall

Tributes (4):

  1. Rich was a kind and gentle soul who will be greatly missed. We had some great conversations over the years and shared a passion for the natural world. I always admired his sense of fairness and positive attitude that was reflected in all he did. The world has truly lost a good man.

  2. My condolences to Rich’s family and loved ones. My interactions with Rich began when I was an emergency room patient and he was some type of medical orderly in attendance there decades ago. He literally held my hand and gently let me know that things would be alright,,,they were. Ever after that I found Rich to be true to that initial meeting. Kindness, love of nature and gentle behavior from a gentleman were the hallmarks of what I learned about Rich. We had fun fishing too. Good Man, glad I knew him.

  3. Sending so much love to Mr. Johnson’s family. As one of the many students who had Mr. Johnson as our biology teacher, I can attest to the great love and passion he put into teaching about the natural world and its beauty and complexity.

    He inspired me with his creativity as a teacher and his good-natured, calm, and thoughtful way of being. As a teacher at a high school now, I can say that he was one of those who inspired me to give back by becoming a public school teacher. Truly, he is one of those special people in the world who gave us his endless patience, kindness, and curiosity as young people exploring life. I have registered as a bone marrow donor and will be donating to the Friends of the Boundary Waters in his honor. Thank you, Mr. Johnson, you are remembered love and high regard.

  4. A very good and strong man. He was viewed as a faculty leader by all Memorial teachers who were privileged to know him. His passing is very sad news. My sympathies to his family. He was taken too early.