Longtime pediatrician and Littleton resident Robert Reed Johnson, who was born on Christmas Day 1921, died on Dec. 19, 2014 at age 92.
Reed, as he was known, was the son of Julius and Grace Reed Johnson. He grew up on the family's Shadycroft …
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Reed, as he was known, was the son of Julius and Grace Reed Johnson. He grew up on the family's Shadycroft Farm, on the south edge of Littleton along the High Line Canal. His grandfather, Herbert Johnson, had bought the farm around the turn of the century, and Reed Johnson's mother had named it.
As a boy, Johnson worked on farm chores and spent time with his horse and beloved dog, Rab, roaming the fields. His lifelong love of nature was born then.
Johnson attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and its medical school and married Dorothea Moreland Johnson, known as “Tee,” who survives him. He served as a medical officer in the Navy in the Pacific during and after World War II.
His children, Randy, Pamela and Brad, recall a pediatrician/father who practiced for 40 years in the south Denver area at a time when doctors made house calls. The family moved back to Littleton from Denver in 1956.
The three children remember that he had Wednesdays, every other weekend and every other Christmas off. He would come home from work about 8 p.m., have dinner — and then the phone would often ring and he'd pick up his black bag and be out the door to visit a sick child.
Sometimes, Johnson was paid in produce: eggs, vegetables and an occasional chicken. Sometimes he received pets as gifts, including “a crazy pigeon called Snookie and a wonderful dog named Skilos.”
Johnson “loved the soil of the earth and never wore gloves while gardening,” in the recounting of his children. He created five acres of gardens around the home and won the National Victory Gardens Award in 1992. His children were able to spend weekend time with him by hauling water and helping with planting.
The love of gardening extended to a garden spot on the west side of the Littleton Museum, which he designed and planted with carefully arranged native plants.
In retirement, Johnson satisfied a love of writing by creating a historical novel, “A Thread of Gold.” He and Tee traveled throughout Colorado and New Mexico researching the story of three pairs of brothers, who lived in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, tied together by a search for a bonanza that was hidden in Lost Creek Canyon in the Tarryall Mountains of Colorado. (The most recent were the Johnson brothers, who brought the legend to Littleton in the 1930s.)
Reed Johnson included a history of Shadycroft Farm in the novel, telling of his grandfather, Herbert E. Johnson, who bought the property in the 1800s. He was general manager of the Colorado Milling and Elevator Co., owned by J.K. Mullen. He hired farm workers and went to Denver by train each day to work, stabling his horse and buggy at a nearby livery stable., while he rode the “Uncle Sam” commuter train into Denver to his office in the Hungarian Flour Mill. The family moved into Denver for a period, then back to Shadycroft, where Reed grew up with his brother, Julius Jr.
When Shadycroft was sold in 1948, Reed Johnson's parents kept 15 acres, and after his mother died in 1954, Reed, Tee and their three children built a home on the west five acres, moving in 1956 and staying until recently, when he and Tee moved to Columbine Gardens.
Son Randy and his wife, Carol, live in the grandparents' remodeled home, and daughter Pamela and her husband, Lester Hay, live in an adjacent home. Son Brad and his wife, Patti, live in Broomfield.
Johnson's wife, children, five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren survive him.
The family suggests that donations can be made to Children's Hospital Colorado (childrenscoloradofoundation.org) or Denver Rescue Mission, 3501 E. 46th Ave., Denver, CO 80126.
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