Theodore Kingsley Johnson, Jr. was born on September 2, 1924, in Springfield, MA, to the late Theodore Kingsley Johnson, Sr. of Groton, CT, and Delia Roberta (Newcomb) Johnson of West Brattleboro, VT. After a long struggle with dementia, Ted passed from this life on August 24, 2018, just nine days shy of his 94th birthday at the Fulton Center nursing home in Gloversville, New York. At Fulton Center he was affectionately known to the staff as “Teddy Bear” due to his amiable personality.
Ted talked fondly about his upbringing in Springfield, East Weymouth, Framingham, and Holliston, Massachusetts, where he kept busy helping the family and community with his various projects and jobs. He was happy to pitch in with everything, from helping his mother and grandma with their canning to building an addition onto their house. While living in Holliston, Ted joined the Congregational Church along with his mother and siblings.
In 1942, Ted graduated from high school in Holliston and entered Northeastern University where he started pursuing a degree in aeronautical engineering. Halfway through his program, in 1944, he was drafted into the US Army with the 922nd field artillery battalion of the 97th infantry division. He served during and after World War II in both Europe and Japan. After his wartime tours in Germany and the former Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Ted was transferred to Matsumoto, Japan, to assist with the post-war demilitarization efforts through the end of his conscription. After his honorable discharge in 1946, he returned to his studies at Northeastern, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.
Ted launched his 25-year career with General Electric at the plant in Lynn, Massachusetts, where he worked on a variety of ground-breaking projects, including jet engine accessories, electric motors, and the turbine-driven pump and afterburner fuel system for the F-86D Sabre aircraft. This was the first electronically-controlled jet engine system. While at GE, Ted also was responsible for fuel cell power source development, leading to the first fuel cell, which was used in space for NASA’s Project Gemini.
During his early days at GE, Ted joined a group of single engineers in renting a house they dubbed Beagle Manor. It was while living at Beagle Manor that Ted joined the Universalist Church in Lynn, MA, and met Dorothy Payne Foye. They had a delightful courtship, were married, and became members of the Congregational Church of Swampscott. Ted wrote in a memoir for his family, “I could not have found a better wife, and that is another happy story . . .” They took up residence in Marblehead, MA, where they started their family.
As his children started coming one by one, Ted delighted in sharing stories of his childhood growing up in Massachusetts, and he involved them in his various gardening and home improvement projects. He also enjoyed connecting with his children through Cub Scouts and the Soap Box Derby, which he was keen on participating in during his own childhood. He helped Ted, Bob, and Bill (Ashley) each design and build their own Soap Box Derby cars for the races in Albany, NY, and Ft. Wayne, IN, as each was old enough to participate. He was especially proud that Debbie was in the Queen’s Court for the races, because girls were not allowed to enter the race until 1971. The entire family liked going to the races together.
Ted enjoyed working hard and was often busy with work and travel, but he also found time for the family he adored. He was affectionate with his children and grandchildren and showed it not only by hugs and wrestling, but also by engaging in activities of common interest — everything from sharing his love of numbers with Deb, working on vehicles with Ted, dutifully taking Bob to his violin lessons, to helping Ashley (Bill) with the Bradford Mailing business. He also enjoyed family vacations and camping, then recounting the stories of their adventures in later years. To the end, Ted had a fervent ardor for his family.
As his family grew, Ted wanted to ensure his career development to best meet their needs. He took advantage of further training in business management, business development, and marketing management from GE, and he continued to take on new ventures with the company, developing and expanding three new market areas for the company. These ventures sent him on various domestic and international business trips and moved him and his family around different towns and cities in Massachusetts and New York.
Due to his business development efforts for GE in the medical field, Ted helped develop and market custom-molded silicone hearing protection for workers. When GE sold that division of the business to Marion Health and Safety (later Marion Merrell Dow), he and Dorothy relocated their family to Rockford, IL. At Marion Health and Safety, Ted was in charge of all of the company’s international first aid, medical supplies, and hearing conservation business, covering Europe, Japan, and the Middle East. During his tenure there, Ted helped expanded the business. He was instrumental in encouraging the use of hearing protection, including promotional sponsorship with the Indianapolis 500.
After Marion Health and Safety reorganized, Ted was hired by one of his former GE bosses as Vice President of Marketing for the startup Oxygen Enrichment Company, an outgrowth of GE’s oxygen enricher project that Ted had previously work on. The family again relocated to Clifton Park, NY, minus Deb, who was by this time attending college at the Illinois State University in Normal, IL. Ted’s work at the Oxygen Enrichment company helped lead to the revolution of home health care as emphysema patients who previously needed to be treated in a hospital or nursing home could now receive treatments at home.
During the latter days of his career, Ted took classes in business consulting and started his own consulting business. He had a passion for entrepreneurship and helping business owners start and build their businesses. He joined the Service Corps of Retire Executives (SCORE) and counseled hundreds of startups and growing businesses in the Capital Region of New York for more than ten years.
In the golden years of his retirement, Ted did not want to rest on his laurels. He loved to work, and he repeatedly declared that it was work that kept him going. In 1997, at the ripe age of 73, he partnered with his former boss from GE, Walter Robb, to contract with Craftsman & Scribes to provide fan club management for a children’s program called “Pappyland,” previously aired on The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and The Learning Channel (TLC). His wife, Dorothy, helped him with this business, responding to the letters and requests of the adoring children who were fans of Pappy. This show promoted an appreciation of and interest in art for children. Ted loved to share “Pappyland” stories and shows with his grandchildren.
Based on his many years of experience in business and in promoting Pappyland, Ted also enjoyed working with Ashley (Bill) at the Bradford Mailing House, LLC. Dorothy and he helped stuff envelopes and get mailings out while he also provided business and marketing insight to Ashley’s expanding business.
Ted is preceded in death by his parents listed above; his sister, Mary E. (Johnson) Camlin and her husband, Philip Camlin; his sister, Delia R. (Johnson) Nitzsche and her husband, Martin Nitzsche; his brother, Richard Mather Johnson; and his eldest son, Theodore (Ted) Kingsley Johnson III.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Payne (Foye) Johnson, formerly of Marblehead, MA; his daughter and son-in-law, Deborah (Johnson) and Richard Rowells from Elk Grove Park, IL; daughter-in-law Kathy (Short) Johnson from Aliso Viejo, CA; son and daughter-in-law Robert and Sherry (Snyder) Johnson from Kansas City, MO; daughter Ashley Johnson, currently living in Jacksonville, FL; grandchildren: Jessica Rowells (IL), Matthew Rowells (IL), Kellie Johnson (CA), Theodore (Teddy) Kingsley Johnson IV (CA), Christopher (Chris) Johnson (CA), and Andrew (AJ) Johnson (MO).
In addition, Ted is survived by the following nieces and nephews: Roberta (Camlin) Hanlon and family, Scott Camlin and family, Linda Camlin and family, Steven Camlin and family, Dawn (Nitzsche) Miller and family, Brenda (Nitzsche) Maloney and family, Daniel Nitzsche and family, and Bryan Nitzsche and family.