David B. Johnson

David B. Johnson

David B. Johnson, 97, died Tuesday at Oakwood Village University Woods, in Madison.

Johnson was loved and admired by family and friends for his intellect, sense of humor, compassion and generosity. An avid gardener and writer, he traveled widely with his wife, Marjorie, and remained civically and politically engaged until his health failed in recent months.

Born in Madison on July 24, 1918, to Helen Fay Johnson and Paul Browning Johnson, he lived with his parents in several cities, including Wauwatosa, Wis., where he attended elementary and junior high school. Returning to Madison in 1933, he graduated from Wisconsin High School in 1935, and later, from Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1942. He married Marjorie Kaun in December 1941. Enlisting in the Army Signal Corps, Johnson served in the European Theater of Operations in World War II.

After his discharge, he joined the staff of the National Labor Relations Board in Cincinnati, Ohio, but opted to enter graduate school at the University of Wisconsin in 1947. He and Marjorie lived in Badger Village for three years before he accepted a position as an industrial relations officer in Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. While in Washington he completed his doctoral dissertation under the direction of Professor Edwin E. Witte and received his Ph.D. in 1955.

Johnson joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, in the Department of Economics, in 1957. He served as associate chairman and chairman of the department from 1962 to 1968. After a year of leave at the National University of Singapore, he returned to the Department of Economics at the University of Wisconsin and later became Dean of International Studies and programs from 1972 to 1980. He served simultaneously for two years as Director of the Industrial Relations Research Institute from 1978 to 1981 and as Director of the Center for Development from 1984 to 1988, when he retired from the university.

Johnson was national Secretary-Treasurer of the Industrial Relations Research Association from 1962 to 1973. A longtime labor arbitrator, he was elected to the National Academy of Arbitrators in 1980 and continued to arbitrate until 2000.

Survivors include one of his three children, Timothy E. Johnson, of Burlington, Vt.; six grandchildren, and one great grandson. His wife, Marjorie, died in 2012; their younger son, David Demcey, in 2007; and their daughter, Deborah Dodge Durkee, in 2014.

At his request, there will be no funeral or memorial service unless his survivors choose to have one later.

Please share your memories of David.

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road Madison
(608) 238-3434