Richard "Dick" Johnson
1934 - 2017
Richard “Dick” Johnson passed away on October 20, 2017 at his home in Santa Barbara with his family by his side. He was born on May 7, 1934, and grew up in rural northwest Pennsylvania near Titusville, home of the first commercial oil well. Dick loved the country as he spent hours in the woods as a boy hunting, trapping, and fishing near his home. In addition to helping his dad pump oil from nearby land leased from a neighbor, Dick worked on neighboring farms, helping with milking cows, cleaning barns, plowing, seeding, haying, and other assorted chores. He went to a one-room school house a few miles from his house where all subjects were taught to grades 1-8 by one teacher. Dick attended high school in Titusville where he was Vice President of his class and participated in as many sports as possible.
Dick entered Penn State as a Petroleum Engineering major, but after two years, he received his draft notice and entered the armed services as a cryptographer stationed in Germany during the height of the Cold War. After serving for two years, he reentered Penn State to complete his degree. After his return to Penn State, he met Patricia Stuart and they married in 1958. Upon graduation Dick accepted a job at Sun Oil Company in Philadelphia doing reservoir engineering studies. After six years Dick went to work for Air Products and Chemicals in Allentown, PA and after three years was transferred to Houston, TX as a sales engineer in the industrial gas pipeline business. In 1972 Air Products moved him and his family, to England to manage businesses in the UK. After just two years they moved to Brussels where Dick managed businesses of Air Products in Europe. In 1975 Dick and his family returned to Allentown, PA where he moved up to higher management positions. In 1980, Dick went to Harvard Business School to complete a 6-month Advanced Management Program. In 1981 a French company, Air Liquide, recruited Dick to join them in San Francisco to assist in running Air Liquide’s businesses in North and South America.
While living in Europe Dick became very interested in wine, visiting many grape growing regions of Europe, particularly in France. Upon arriving in San Francisco Dick and Pat set out to purchase vineyard property in the Napa Valley, settling on a small ranch house with hillside vineyards near St. Helena. On weekends they would head up to St. Helena where Dick would tend to his Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. In 1991 Dick retired from corporate life and he and Pat moved full time to Napa Valley to enjoy the cultural life of grapes and wine of Napa Valley. In addition Dick became a hiking and climbing enthusiast and annually journeyed to Jackson Hole for extensive hiking, and using rope belays managed to climb the Grand Teton. There were many hiking trips in the Rockies and the Sierras with summiting 14ers frequently the goal. Dick and Pat also enjoyed traveling the world, studying cultural differences, and often including family members on their adventures.
After visiting family in Santa Barbara, Dick and Pat decided to relocate to Santa Barbara in 1998. Dick was active in Santa Barbara cultural activities, particularly the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara Opera, and the History Forum. Dick stayed active playing tennis at La Cumbre Country Club on the InterClub Senior Team and on regular outings with other Club members. After attending classes at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Dick became a UC Certified Master Gardener. His interest in plant life led to landscape design where he worked with many local homeowners to design and install landscape projects. In lieu of taking design fees he requested his clients donate to Direct Relief International where he served on the Board for 6 years.
Remaining a Penn State athletics fan for the duration of his adult life, Dick particularly enjoyed football as a season ticket holder and women’s volleyball as an honorary coach, traveling back to State College, PA annually to cheer on his team.
Dick is survived by his wife Pat, enjoying 59 years of blissful marriage together; daughter Kristen Nostrand, her husband Peter, and granddaughters Helen and Leah of Santa Barbara; son Erik, his wife Kath, and granddaughter Sushma of Kensington, CA; and daughter Kaaren Belcher, her husband Aaron, and granddaughters Marguriette and Lucy of Chico CA.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Direct Relief would be appreciated.