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Dr. Harold Graham Johnson

March 12, 1922 September 10, 2013
Dr. Harold Graham Johnson
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Obituary for Dr. Harold Graham Johnson

PEORIA - Harold Graham Johnson, M.D., 91, of Peoria, formerly of Chillicothe, passed away at 3:54 p.m., Tuesday, September 10, 2013, at Lutheran Hillside Village. Dr. Johnson was born in North Grafton, Massachusetts, on March 12, 1922. He was the third of four sons born to Raymond Franklin Johnson, Sr., and Beatrice (Hargraves) Johnson. He was valedictorian of his 1939 high school graduating class and attended Boston University. There he majored in pre-med and held many offices, including president of the B.U. Student Council. Because of World War II, he left the university during his senior year to join the V-12 Program, which sent young men to medical school as members of the military. He entered Harvard University Medical School in the spring of 1943 as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. In January 1944, while a medical student at Harvard, he married Ruth Avis Moorehouse of Hopedale, Massachusetts. As part of his V-12 program training, Dr. Johnson worked in a twelve-month rotating internship at Worcester (Massachusetts) City Hospital, where he was named “Intern of the Year” in 1947. After completing the V-12 program, he was called to active duty in the U.S. Naval Medical Corps. He served at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Chelsea, Massachusetts, where he was assigned to the Chief of Medicine in a nine-month residency in internal medicine, then did an eighteen-month residency in diagnostic radiology. After his assignment to a family practice clinic at the U.S. Ammunition Depot in Hingham, Massachusetts and while he finished nearly all the training to become a radiologist, he realized that becoming a family doctor was his true calling in life. After his discharge from the Navy in 1950, Dr. Johnson, his wife, Ruth, and their then four children moved to Chillicothe, Illinois, where he joined the practice of Dr. Frank Green. Eventually Dr. Johnson established his own clinic, where he practiced medicine until he retired in 1987. Because of his radiology training, Dr. Johnson set up an X-ray facility in his office and offered diagnostic services not normally available in the offices of small town family physicians. For many years, Dr. Johnson also practiced obstetrics, bringing nearly two thousand babies into the world. He took great pride in the fact that he always practiced “preventive medicine” long before it became the medical gold standard; and when family practice became a recognized specialty, he was one of the first doctors to become qualified as a nationally board-certified family practitioner. In addition, Dr. Johnson taught at the University of Illinois College of Medicine when it opened a branch in Peoria, serving there as Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Practice for 17 years, and giving the first lectures on cardiac catheterization, PKU disease, and methods of carrying out an in-depth complete history and physical exam. Dr. Johnson served on many boards and committees in Peoria. For five years, he was the chairman of the Methodist Hospital Family Practice Department. He also was on the Peoria Medical Society Board, the Peoria Cancer Society Board, and the Peoria Heart Association Board. He was on the active staff at Methodist Hospital and the courtesy staff at OSF St. Francis Medical Center and Proctor Hospital throughout his years of practice in Illinois. In addition, he served as the second president of the board for the newly formed Peoria Youth Symphony (now the Central Illinois Youth Symphony). Dr. Johnson was also very active in Chillicothe and surrounding communities in both medical and civic matters. He was a Santa Fe Railroad physician for thirty-seven years, founded the Rome Community Clinic, and was a founding staff member for the Princeville Community Clinic for migrant workers. He was co-chairman of a committee of doctors and dentists committed to bringing fluoridated water to Chillicothe, which was accomplished eight years before it was in Peoria. His civic achievements included chairing or co-chairing committees to combine North Chillicothe and Chillicothe into one town, to save Shore Acres Park from development by acquiring it as a town park, and to prevent further expansion of a second gravel pit in Chillicothe. He served on boards for Pearce Grade School and for Plymouth Congregational Church, where he was a choir member for 25 years. Dr. Johnson co-founded the Great Books Club of Chillicothe and was an enthusiastic Explorer Scouts volunteer leader. He was a charter member of the Arrowhead Country Club, a member of the Peoria and Chillicothe Historical Societies, the I.V.Y. Club, the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, and the Kiwanis Club. Dr. Johnson is survived by his loving wife, Shirley Roehnelt-Johnson; his two brothers, Howard and Raymond Johnson; his sisters-in-law, Phyllis, June, and Viola Johnson; his four daughters and their spouses, Dorothea Jensen of Contoocook, NH, Carolyn Pollak of New York City, Martha Johnson of Minneapolis, and Louisa Wise of Margaret River, West Australia; his daughter-in-law, Deborah Alongi of Castleton, VT; and his step-children, Lark and Pat Sullivan, Tobie and Jerry McMahon, Mark and Michele Roehnelt, and Robin Robins all of Peoria. He is also survived by twelve grandchildren, eight great-grandsons, and many more step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his first wife, Ruth; his son, Paul; and his brother, Ralph. Hal Johnson was a lifelong avid bird-watcher and sailor. He loved learning about history and about science, and loved sharing his knowledge and experiences with his family, friends, and patients. Like his father before him and like his much-loved son, his puckish sense of humor made him a wonderful teller of stories. In 2009, Dr. Johnson told many of his favorite stories in an autobiography, A Doctor? Who, Me?, published at Dr. Johnson attended Trinity Lutheran Church and was a resident of Lutheran Hillside Village. Funeral service will be at 11 a.m., Saturday, September 14, 2013, at the Waters of Life Chapel at Lutheran Hillside Village, 6901 N. Galena Rd. Pastor Paul Park will officiate. Visitation will be from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday prior to the service at the chapel. Private burial will follow in Chillicothe City Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Lutheran Hillside Village or Chillicothe Library. Tributes and condolences may be submitted to


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