David Wesley Johnson of Tupper Lake passed away Thursday, January 20, 2022. He is survived by his wife, Beth Nichols Johnson; his brother, Tony Johnson and his wife Beth Kiley Johnson; as well as his children and stepchildren: Marco Johnson and his wife Anne Magnan, Paul Johnson and his wife Marilyn, Susan Johnson, Derek Gagnier and his wife Lara Marshall, and Kirk Gagnier and his wife Debby. He is also survived by many beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. David was predeceased by his father, Hugh B. Johnson, his mother Ida and his older brother, Hugh Johnson.
David spent summers in his youth at the family camp on Raquette River Drive in Tupper Lake, where he, his siblings and friends slept in tents on the hills behind. He always loved Tupper Lake and was well known for many episodes as a teenager: At age 14, he and his cousin Charlie Emmons canoed from Old Forge to Tupper Lake, enduring mosquitoes, long portages and hot summer nights in their tent. Years later, he and his friends got their long-missed tattoos at the local carnival, and once they were surprised by their fathers in a pool hall. Events like these tested his mother’s patience.
Always a lover of music, he was a proficient pianist in his youth and a member of the Washington-Lee High School Choir in Arlington, Virginia. The choir performed at Harry Truman’s inaugural party and a photo was taken of the choir with Lena Horne. As an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, he was social president of his fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon (Deke), and he once persuaded Dave Brubeck to perform all night at the fraternity after a concert local.
David graduated from the University of Rochester in 1954 and married Maureen Lee, of Rochester. After two years in the US Army, he entered Columbia Law School. He practiced law in New York for 16 years, and after many summer vacations and winter ski trips, David moved permanently with his family to Tupper Lake in the early 1970s.
During his years practicing law at Tupper Lake, he was well known for his compassion, sense of humor and non-judgmental attitude, expressed at work and throughout his life. His work ethic was second to none and his caring manner led him to do a lot of pro bono work for a large number of people and organizations. He was the legal guardian of unfortunate young people, always generous with his time. He accepted everything from a raspberry pie to a load of wood in lieu of a fee at certain times.
He and his wife Beth married in 1983. During their time together, they filled their lives with music, art and their love of travel. David shared his love and knowledge of jazz with his friends and family. He loved to sing in the Adirondack Chorus. He was also an avid stamp collector.
David and Beth have traveled extensively over the years. An avid athlete, he enjoyed snow skiing, water skiing, hiking and biking. He founded the Tupper Lake Kite and Water Ski Club and brought the sport of flying huge kites behind motorboats to the lakes and ponds of Tupper Lake. Friends and acquaintances will remember the kite competitions held on the Etang de Raquette in the 1970s. He enjoyed teaching children how to water ski, and many adults fondly remember these sessions from their childhood.
During his professional career in Tupper Lake, he has served on the boards of numerous organizations: the Tupper Lake Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Children’s Legal Services of Franklin County, the Franklin County Bar Association, North Country Community College, Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce. , High Peaks Hospice, Inc., Franklin County Arts Council, Lake Placid Center for the Arts, and Adirondack Community Trust. He was a longtime member of the Tupper Lake Lions Club. He served as the Tupper Lake City Attorney and the City of Piercefield Attorney for many years.
Perhaps his most prized position was that of founding member of the board of directors of the Wild Center (Adirondack Museum of Natural History). He looked forward to every step of the long process of building this great facility in Tupper Lake.
For the past few years, while David was sick, he lived at Neighborhood House in Keene Valley. The superb facility has the most caring and dedicated staff. He was lovingly spoiled by the employees and enjoyed dessert every day for lunch and dinner.
No funeral is planned. A celebration of his life will be held at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake on May 21 at 5:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to the Wild Center, Neighborhood House or Elizabethtown Hospital.
Online condolences can be sent to: www.fraryfuneralhome.com.