Lawrence O. Johnson, Ph.D.

Lawrence O. Johnson, Ph.D.

February 16, 1930 – December 22, 2022

Visitation: Friday, January 13, 2023, 9:30AM, St. Patrick Catholic Church, 20500 W Maple Rd, followed by Mass of Christian Burial: 10:30AM. Interment: Calvary Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to Siena Francis House.

LAWRENCE O. JOHNSON, Age 92, passed away on Thursday, December 22, 2022, at home in Omaha, Nebraska, in the care of his devoted and loving wife, in hospice care after a long and happy life capped by a late-in-life struggle with Alzheimers.

Larry was born to Osval George and Rosalia Mary (Landgraff) Johnson in Irene, SD. Larry was predeceased by his three older brothers and four sisters. Patriotism was a strong family value, and before his death, Larry’s father was a veteran of both World Wars, and his three bothers served in World War II. Young Larry ran the town’s film projector, showing newsreels. He was an all-around athlete who lettered in four sports. After high school, he worked a stint on a ranch in west river South Dakota, then enrolled and at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, where played varsity basketball, and graduated. Upon graduation, Larry enlisted in the Army, and served as a First Lieutenant in the Korean Conflict.

He returned home to coach in Western Iowa towns, in a teaching career that would last 43 years. Larry completed his Ph.D. at Iowa State University in Ames, and taught for 29 years as a Professor at Creighton University, retiring in 1996. Ironically, he even taught his wife, Carol, and son, Mark, at Creighton to meet their school administration course requirements. An avid Bluejay fan and season ticket holder from Civic Auditorium days, Larry thrilled to see Mark play as a CU varsity basketball team player.

Larry supervised decades of teachers in training, visiting classrooms across the city in Omaha Public Schools and Archdiocese of Omaha Schools. His sons often would see dad sitting in a small desk in the back of their classrooms, as he groomed the next emerging classes of educators.

Although his academic achievements gained him the perk of lunch in Creighton’s faculty dining room, he was most often found not with peers debating their research, but with staff and grounds crew talking about their families and fishing.

Larry was happiest around his own family and seldom missed a game, school or scouting activity, doctor appointments, or music or sporting practices of his sons. Jeff recalls that Larry spent most of Jeff’s short-lived Little League career calling him ‘out’ as umpire behind the plate. But they were proud of their sons’ academic and career successes. He made breakfast, taught them to golf, mow lawns properly, and respect others.

Larry and Carol were married just a few days shy of their 65th Wedding Anniversary, December 26. Larry attended countless hours of his grandchildren’s activities, and grew to cherish them. He could be seen encouraging them individually, to provoke their laughter, and to create memories we treasure today and will always hold in our hearts.


  • Jay Dunlap Posted January 9, 2023 9:35 am

    Our prayers are with you! He was a delightful Christian gentleman and terrific educator.

    • Jeffrey Johnson Posted January 9, 2023 6:54 pm

      Thank you!

    • Jeffrey Johnson Posted January 9, 2023 6:59 pm

      Thanks, Jay. Dad just liked engaging with people, and that was always entertaining to be around. (Maybe a lost skillset after Covid and the polarized years of late. Hope you and yours are well!

  • Dorothy Powell Posted January 9, 2023 11:30 am

    This obituary brought back so many memories of when Larry came to Merrill, Iowa, and coached basketball. I remember him fondly and recall when he and Carol started dating I believe right after she graduated from high school. His face still looks familiar after all these years. My condolences to Carol and his family.

  • John and Kathleen Gleason Posted January 9, 2023 12:36 pm

    What a great, fully-lived life. We’re so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts are with you all.

    • Jeffrey Johnson Posted January 9, 2023 6:53 pm

      Thank you, much appreciated. (..and Is this John F Gleason, Prep graduate 1980? If so I’ve lost track and would like to reach you).

    • Jeffrey Johnson Posted January 9, 2023 7:01 pm

      Thank you, I appreciate that. (…Is this John F Gleason, Prep grad 1980? If so, I’ve lost track, would like to reach you).

  • Patricia Ames Posted January 9, 2023 3:06 pm

    I,too, remember Larry Johnson when I was a student at Merrill, Iowa. He was an excellent PE teacher, introducing us to all manner of sports one could practice and enjoy over a lifetime: bowling, golf…. He was extremely personable and charming. So pleased that he practiced his exceptional supporting role in everything he did.

  • Sonja Terrell Posted January 12, 2023 11:52 am

    Lawrence was always such a joy to be around. I didn’t know him very long but he quickly became a dear friend along with Carol. Loved Lawrence’s smile, he always lit up the room with his incredible smile and fun charismatic personality. He will be missed by everyone.

  • Patrick Pinhero Posted January 13, 2023 10:52 am

    Our family will keep Larry and his family is our prayers. When I was a student at Creighton and I roomed with Mark, I fondly remember often stopping in to visit with Professor Johnson and having a visit. I had more serious talks with him than the faculty in my own major. He influenced my decision to pursue a vocation as an academician. Though some of our conversations were serious, I always left his office with a smile and feeling positive. As a Professor, it’s imperative to be honest with students without tearing them down. God Bless Larry and the Johnson Family!

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