William Sherburne Johnson was born on Jan. 3, 1923, in Kearny, Neb. He spent the first nine years there with his parents, Ralph Sherburne Johnson and Hilda Pearson Johnson. After their separation, he went to Torrance, Calif., to live with his aunt Charlotte and uncle Horace Woods. After graduating from Torrance High School, he attended UCLA on a football scholarship. His time there was cut short by World War II, and he enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 1943. That June, he was at the Marine Air Corps flight school in Norman, Okla. He met his future wife, Phyllis Jean Butler, at the First Methodist Church in nearby Shawnee, Okla. That August, he began his tour of duty in the South Pacific theater of war as a tail gunner on an SBD Dauntless dive bomber.
Bill survived his combat deployment and from November of 1944 was stationed at the Miramar Air Depot near San Diego. He managed to visit Phyllis in Oklahoma, and they became engaged in January 1945, and married on June 9, 1945. They moved to Santa Anna near Miramar, then after his honorable discharge moved to Los Angeles, where he managed a portrait studio. In 1947, he attended the Fred Archer School of Photography and graduated at the top of his class. The Johnsons moved to Lakewood, Colo., in 1949, and Bill managed a photography studio in Denver. He loved being a photographer and opened his own studio. He worked for the Jefferson Sentinel newspaper, then as a staff photographer for The Denver Post, where he worked 23 years.
In 1980, he and Phyllis moved to Mancos, where they enjoyed retirement. They joined the Methodist church, and Bill became a lay speaker. He later became a member of the Lions Club, which is naming a scholarship in his honor.
Bill is survived by wife Phyllis; daughters Jennifer Hix and Kelly Johnson; and sons Bill Johnson Jr., and Carl A. Johnson. His grandsons are Zachariah Johnson and Zach Brown; his granddaughter is Lindsey Johnson; and his-great granddaughter is Madison Brown.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. May 30 at Mancos United Methodist Church, 470 West Grand Ave.
Arrangements are being made through Ertel Funeral Home. For information, click on the obituary section at ertelfuneralhome.com.