Robert Johnson – Colonel, United States Army

From a contemporary press report

Dr. Robert J. Johnson, 83, a professor of anatomy known for his boundless knowledge and energetic lectures, and a World War II veteran whose passion for history led him to almost every major Civil War battlefield, died Tuesday (December 23, 1998) at his home in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania of a brain tumor.

Dr. Johnson was a professor emeritus of anatomy and surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and had also taught at the University of Washington and West Virginia University.

“At each place, he was a legend,” said Dr. Grant Gauger, a former student and colleague and a close friend of Dr. Johnson's. “There seemed to be no limits to his knowledge of any part of the human body.”

Dr. Johnson taught not only medical students, but practicing physicians and surgeons, using large, intricately detailed slides to illustrate his subject.

Even when he was ill, Dr. Johnson taught small, tightly focused classes.

“He brought an alertness, a brightness, an energy to the subject I've never experienced anywhere,” said Gauger, a neurosurgeon on the faculty of the University of California at San Francisco.

Gauger was studying at the School of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle when he met Dr. Johnson.

A student approaching Dr. Johnson in the library with what seemed a simple question might find himself caught up in an hours-long lecture, Gauger said.

Dr. Johnson also was oblivious to time when talking about his days as a soldier. He was a battalion surgeon in the 75th Infantry Division and treated men wounded in the bloody Battle of the Bulge. After his active duty, he served in the U.S. Army Reserve, retiring in 1975 with the rank of colonel.

Dr. Johnson left Washington in 1959 and became chairman of anatomy at West Virginia University.

Four years later, he was recruited by the University of Pennsylvania and was made chairman of the Department of Anatomy of the Graduate School of Medicine.

Keeping fit was another of Dr. Johnson's passions, Dorothy Johnson said.

“He loved sports — tennis and cross-country skiing,” she said.

Dorothy Johnson met her husband when he was in medical school at the University of Iowa, from which he graduated in 1943. They have three daughters, Lynn Penn, Patsy Johnson and Nora Johnson, and a grandson, Ethan Penn.

The family will receive friends from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Stuard Funeral Home, 104 Cricket Ave., Ardmore. Dr. Johnson will be buried on January 7,  1999 at Arlington National Cemetery, with full military honors.

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