Donald R. Johnson
October 15, 2020
Donald R. Johnson, a long-time professor at the University of Idaho, passed away at home in Coeur d’Alene Oct. 10. Don grew up in Newport, Washington, spending a lot of time on Diamond Lake. His interest in animals led to his study of biology at the University of Idaho, which he attended with the assistance of a Navy ROTC scholarship. Don was a member of the Delta Chi fraternity and graduated with a bachelor's in biology in 1953. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, and then returned to Moscow to earn his master's in biology in 1958 under major professor Earl J. Larrison.
A number of Don’s children and grandchildren have been proud to carry on his Vandal tradition, earning their degrees at the University of Idaho. Don taught at Ft. Lewis State College (Colorado) and at Minot State College (North Dakota) before returning to the University of Idaho, where he taught for 27 years in the Department of Biological Sciences.
While in Moscow, he taught courses in general biology, ornithology, mammalogy and raptor ecology. His research interests included vertebrate bioenergetics, osprey migration and dispersal, foraging ecology of mountain caribou and time series analysis of furbearer populations. He supervised the graduate study of 15 master's and three doctoral students and also served as the curator of the university’s bird and mammal collection.
Don’s spouse, Florence, still resides in Coeur d’Alene. She also has ties to the university, serving in various administrative support positions in English, math and psychology in the 1970s and ‘80s. Don’s son, Brian, currently serves as the assistant vice president for Facilities on the Moscow campus.
Condolences may be shared with Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org. Charitable donations may be offered to the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s Church in Moscow, or to a charity of your choice. The family plans to host a picnic in celebration of Don’s life in Summer 2021.
About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at uidaho.edu