Former professor David Johnson dies at 81

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Staff Writer

The Sweet Briar community was saddened to learn of the death of David A. Johnson, professor of psychology emeritus, on Nov. 12, 2014.

Johnson, born Sept. 12, 1933, in Joplin, Mo., taught at Sweet Briar from 1969 until his retirement. Before entering academia, he worked in his father’s manufacturing business after receiving his B.A. from the University of Tulsa, according to his obituary. He earned his master’s at Pittsburg State University in Kansas and his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University.

At Sweet Briar, Johnson’s research interests were human learning, memory, and especially animal behavior, for which he traveled extensively.

He enjoyed the outdoors, including hunting and fishing, and was an accomplished marksman in competitive rifle matches, according to the obituary. In his later years, he enjoyed taking art classes and painting.

Johnson and his wife, Jan Pettypool Johnson ’74, stayed in the Lynchburg area after his retirement. He was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where he served on the vestry and as a lay reader and chalicist.

His survivors include his wife; son, Kerke A. Johnson (Lynne) of Norfolk, Va.; son-in-law, Ivan Boatner of Knoxville, Tenn.; and granddaughters Haley, Peyton and Margaret. He was preceded in death by his parents, Bethel and Catherine Johnson; a daughter, Elizabeth Johnson Boatner; and a brother, Andrew C. Johnson.

A memorial service will be announced later.