Richard Anders Johnson of Ann Arbor, retired clinical professor in the School of Dentistry, died June 28 at age 78.

Richard Anders Johnson
Richard Anders Johnson

He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on August 31, 1941, the son of Burt and Lorraine (Terrell) Johnson, and graduated from Grand Rapids Central High School in 1959.

Johnson earned a Doctor of Dental Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1967 and a master’s degree in orthodontics in 1973.

He served in the U.S. Army dental corps for three years, and upon returning to Ann Arbor began a career of private practice and teaching at U-M.

During more than 30 years in dental education, he served as director of the graduate orthodontic clinic, director of the program for pediatric dental residents, coordinator of the orthodontic curriculum for dental students and the instructional faculty teaching program.

He was appointed to numerous U-M dental school and university committees and is a past president of the Chi Chapter of Omicron Kappa Upsilon, the dental honorary society. He was awarded emeritus status by the Board of Regents in May 2005.

Johnson is survived by his wife of 52 years, Susan (Steger) Johnson of Ann Arbor; daughters Kristin E. Johnson (Kelly) of Ann Arbor, and Britt A. Johnson of Chicago; a brother, Dale E. (Alice) Johnson of Port Sheldon, Michigan, and Oakland, California; two nephews, Robert and Michael Steger; a niece, Marcy (Giovanni) Martinez, and two grandnieces. 

Johnson was a kind soul with a loving heart and had a curious mind that led to a life full of learning, fun and adventure. Books and research were a big part of his life, and he was always happy to be on a beach swimming, playing golf and teasing little fish with handmade lures. He was smart, funny and a true friend.

He enjoyed being a teacher, mentor and friend to his students, and many maintained contact with him over the years.

He loved being a dad and spent countless hours bedtime reading, walking together to Dairy Queen, the Food and Drug Mart and the playground at Burns Park, traveling to the Ann Arbor Public Library and the Natural History Museum and Observatory, cooking and planning meals, and listening to the Detroit Tigers radio broadcasts together on the back porch.

He attended Britt and Kristin’s many sporting practices, meets and games spending countless hours cheering them on. Later, he and Susan were regular attendees and fans of the U-M field hockey and softball teams.

He was a travel enthusiast, with many family trips to Hawaii, Europe, northern Michigan and beyond. Since retirement, he especially loved traveling with Susan to northern California, cruising the southern seas, and trips to Sweden.

A memorial will be later this summer or early fall. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Richard A. Johnson Endowed Graduate Orthodontic Residents Scholarship Fund at the School of Dentistry, or to the Michael J. Fox Institute for Parkinson’s disease research. 

Submitted by the Johnson family

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