May 7, 2021

Death Announced of Rev. David Galen Johnson, Former Minister of Visitation at Deep River Congregational Church

Reverend David Galen Johnson

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Reverend David Galen Johnson, 79 and United Church of Christ minister, died at home in Portsmouth, NH of late-stage cancer on Monday, January 11, 2021.

He was born on June 5, 1941, in Philippi, WV, the first son of Glen Galen Johnson and Clarice Louise (Gainer) Johnson, and moved to Little Rock, AR, at age 10. A high school senior the year that Little Rock schools were closed in the wake of Brown vs Board of Education, David (like many of his classmates) graduated from a high school away from home. He married one of those classmates, Lyla Gibb, on September 8, 1960.

David earned a BS in Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and began his professional life at Westinghouse as a manufacturing engineer and production foreman. Taking leave from that role, he fulfilled his Army Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) commitment, and was stationed in Heilbronn, Germany.

After earning an MBA from Ball State University, David enjoyed early career success with TempRite, a division of Aladdin Industries. From a base near London, England, he built the European business by engaging sales managers in key countries. Together, they became the “Big 5” and life-long friends. Subsequently, he held a variety of sales & marketing leadership roles before launching his own executive search business called Galen Giles Group. He brought his professional talents and passion for international understanding to his position on the Board of Directors of the American Field Service (AFS).

Yet it was not until later in life that David heard his true calling to spread God’s word as a minister. With the unfailing support of his wife Lyla, he earned his Master of Divinity from Andover-Newton Seminary at the age of 68. He pursued his formal calling as the Minister of Visitation at Deep River Congregational Church (CT) while also living his purpose as a hospice spiritual counselor for Masonicare. Later, he served as the Interim Minister at Epping Community Church (NH) — a role he described as his favorite job ever.

Away from work, David pursued hobbies such as virtual game playing back when “virtual” meant mailing monthly paper “orders” for the strategy board game Diplomacy. One of his great joys in life was playing poker with the same group of friends for almost 40 years, as well as playing (and winning)  just about any card or board game with family. Additionally, he dedicated himself to community theater, was part of a Murder Mystery troupe, and most recently was a role player at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth.

Yet David would have described his greatest passion and achievements as his 60-year marriage to the only love of his life, Lyla, and the raising of their four children. Together, he and Lyla sought to give them “roots and wings,” and recently David articulated that in this, they had been successful.

David is survived by his wife, Lyla G. Johnson; his children Glen R. Johnson and wife N. Gaye Johnson of East Point, GA, Katherine Johnson Armstrong and husband Robert A. Armstrong II of Charlotte, NC, E. William (Bill) Johnson, MD and wife Reiko K. Johnson, MD of Newfields, NH, Elizabeth Johnson Levine and wife Adele A. Levine of Silver Spring, MD; 10 grandchildren and two great-grand children; and brothers Mark A. Johnson and G. Douglas Johnson, both of Heber Springs, AR.

A Virtual Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, January 24th at 1:00 p.m. (this event will be online only, details will follow on here soon, if you know you would like to attend please email info@kentandpelczarfh.com to receive details when they become available.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to maintain the historic North Church in Portsmouth, NH or The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. To sign an online condolences book, and for updates and more information, please contact  Kent & Pelczar Funeral Home & Crematory at https://www.kentandpelczarfh.com/ or +1 603-659-3344.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

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