Keith Johnson
Keith Johnson
Keith Johnson
Keith Johnson
Keith Johnson
Keith Johnson

Obituary of Keith M Johnson

Keith M. Johnson, age 78, beloved husband, father, step-father, grandfather, brother, friend, child of God, and accomplished musician and teacher, passed away at his home in Tucson, AZ on July 19, 2020, after a valiant battle with cancer. He was born on October 9, 1941, in Wisconsin Rapids, WI, the son of Vivian Johnson and Lydia (Smith) Johnson. Dr. Johnson was Associate Professor Emeritus of Horn and Brass Pedagogy at the University of Arizona.

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Pamela (Ferguson, Schade) Johnson; children; Pandora (Johnson) Linnartz (Troy) Phoenix, AZ; Laurence Johnson (Malinda) Andover, MN; step-children; Brian Schade (Sharon) Orlando, FL; Karen Schade Sayers (Tom) Sierra Vista, AZ; Sandra Schade Crews (Dan) Tucson, AZ; 14 grandchildren, a sister, Barbara (Johnson) Jorenby, Hastings,MN; nephews, cousins, and many colleagues and friends. His former wife, Nancy (Hanson) Mahon, Tucson, AZ, also survives him. He was preceded in death by his parents, a step-father, grandparents and a granddaughter.

Dr. Johnson graduated from high school in Viroqua, WI, and attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where he majored in music education. He earned a Master of Music in Horn Performance from UCLA and a Doctor of Music in Brass Pedagogy and Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. Dr. Johnson taught at Jacksonville University, FL, Indiana University and East Texas State University, Commerce, TX before arriving in Tucson. He also performed as principal horn with The Jacksonville Symphony, The Berkshire Festival, the Tucson Symphony and the Tucson Pops Orchestra. He was a founding member of the Arizona Wind Quintet and was principal horn with the Arizona Opera Company orchestra for 35 years. Along the way he taught elementary music, high school bands and choirs, and gave private horn lessons for many years. He directed the Sanctuary Choir for the Green Valley Community Church for many years and then became Music Director for St. Mark’s United Methodist Church where he directed the Chancel Choir, and where Keith and Pam have been active members for over 20 years. He was a beloved teacher and mentor to many students, from elementary age to older adults, many of whom continue to enjoy playing and some of whom are performing throughout the US and around the world.

Keith was an avid golfer – involved with several groups who played on a regular basis both in Tucson and in Pinetop, AZ, where Keith and Pam spent their summers in their little “Pinetop house” to escape the Tucson heat. He and Pam often could be seen biking around Tucson, as well as places they visited in their travels. Keith was also an avid bridge player – and played both on-line and in person with several groups in Tucson and Pinetop. Keith was a wood-worker and “tinkerer” – loving to pass the time in his workshop and around the yard, fixing, creating, digging, planting, taking-apart and putting-back-together. Keith enjoyed volunteering for Interfaith Community Services of Tucson – helping people who needed rides to run errands and visit their doctors. Keith was an avid UofA Wildcat fan – and both he and Pam loved attending and supporting Arizona football, basketball and baseball/softball teams.

Keith and Pam enjoyed the theater – having season tickets with AZ Theater Company for many years. They attended the Tucson Symphony and AZ Opera whenever possible. Their great joy was traveling together and they were able to visit many parts of the US, Europe, China and Southeast Asia and Peru. For many years, they loved packing up their trailer and taking off on an adventure – taking the road less traveled whenever possible and loved to “poke around” in antique and second-hand stores and yard sales when they were on their trailer travels.

There are no immediate plans for a memorial service due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. A memorial will be planned for a later date – when it’s safe to gather.

In lieu of flowers – we suggest that you make a donation to the American Cancer Society, the St. Mark’s UMC Music Ministries – or you may send a memorial gift to The University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music in Keith’s name, which will go to the Horn Studio.

Many thanks go to Casa de la Luz Hospice for their kind and caring help in the last weeks of Keith’s life, as well as the pastors and congregation of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church for the support and out-pouring of prayers and love for Keith throughout his battle with cancer. Our loving family and dear friends will never fully know how much your love and support has meant.

All who knew Keith, knew of his kindness, his patience, his easy humor – and his glorious, ready smile. No matter how we appear on the outside, we will always be missing a huge part of us on the inside – and especially that smile. Rest in peace, beloved Keith.

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