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Santa Barbara News-Press : JOHNSON, Gerald Jerry


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JOHNSON, Gerald Jerry

April 26, 2013 5:30 AM

75, of Lompoc, died April 20, 2013 in Palo Alto, surrounded by his wife of 50 years, Karen, his daughter Lisa, and the caring staff of Stanford Hospital's heart transplant unit.

Twenty-two years ago Jerry received the gift of a transplanted heart and eventually became part of a worldwide study on the longevity of heart trans- plant patients. After some months of failing health, and despite his strong will, his heart stopped beating.

A memorial service will be held in Grand Rapids, Minnesota later in the summer. A memorial mass will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 30, at Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Mission Hills, with the Rev. Joy Lawrence Santos officiating.

Jerry was born on New Year's Day of 1938 in Dunbar Lake, Minnesota to Isabel Hansen Johnson and George Johnson, who delivered his son at the family home.

Jerry was a 1960 graduate with a bachelor's of science in math from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and later earned a master's in counseling from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

In 1964, Jerry and Karen moved to California so Jerry could teach in the growing community of Lompoc, where he found a teaching job at Cabrillo High School before construction on the new campus was even completed.

Jerry was a longtime math teacher and varsity golf coach at Cabrillo, taking his team to several league championships. He spent two years counseling students and for many years was known as the "Voice of the Conquistadores," as he announced football games from the press box.

A heart attack in 1981 required Jerry to be medically retired from high school teaching, but in more recent years he returned to education as a math lecturer at Allan Hancock College.

In retirement, Jerry began a hobby of making custom golf clubs and refinishing aging clubs, eventually doing repair work on clubs for all the local courses.

A voracious reader, Jerry consumed books about history, politics and theology and had a superb memory. He was passionate in his discussions about politics, particularly with his breakfast buddies at Cajun Kitchen. He loved to compete and was an avid fan of the Dodgers and Lakers. He had an extreme passion for cooking, endlessly watching cooking shows and trying new recipes, which once earned him "Cook of the Week" honors in the News-Press.

He is predeceased by his parents, as well as his siblings, Milton, Bertha, Richard, Wilma and Doris.

In addition to Karen and Lisa, he is survived by his aunt, Joan Oja and niece Lori Berg, the entire Madsen family, as well as many friends. His final resting place will be Itasca-Calvary Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Memorial donations in Jerry's name may be made to the American Heart Association.


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